XIV THE “LIBERAL” LIVES OF JESUS
|November 16, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter fourteen||
THE “LIBERAL” LIVES OF JESUS
David Friedrich Strauss. Das Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk bearbeitet. (A Life of Jesus forthe German People.) Leipzig, 1864. 631 pp.
Der Christus des Galubens und der Jesus der Geschichte. Eine Kritik des Schleiermacher’s Lebens Jesu. (The Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History, a Criticism of Schleiermacher’s Life of Jesus.) Berlin, 1865. 223 pp. Appendix, pp. 224-240.
Der Schenkel’sche Handel in Baden. (The Schenkel Affair in Baden.) A corrected reprint from No. 441 of the National-Zeitung, of the 21st September 1864.
Die Halben und die Ganzen. (The Half-way-ers and the Whole-way-ers.) 1865.
Daniel Schenkel. Das Charakterbild Jesu. (The Portrait of Jesus.) Wiesbaden, 1864 (ed. 1 and 2). 405 pp. Fourth edition, with a preface opposing Strauss’s “Der alte und der neue Glaube” (The Old Faith and the New), 1873.
Karl Heinrich Weizsäcker. Untersuchungen über die Evangelische Geschichte, ihre Quellen und den Gang ihrer Entwicklung. (Studies in the Gospel History, its Sources and the Progress of its Development.) Gotha, 1864. 580 pp.
Heinrich Julius Holtzmann. Die synoptischen Evangelien. Ihr Ursprung und geschichtlicher Charakter. (The Synoptic Gospels. Their Origin and Historical Character.) Leipzig, 1863. 514 pp.
Theodor Keim. Die Geschichte Jesu von Nazara. (The History of Jesus of Nazara.) 3 vols., Zurich; vol. i., 1867, 446 pp.; Vol. ii., 1871, 616 pp.; Vol. iii., 1872, 667 pp.
Die Geschichte Jesu. Zurich, 1872. 398 pp.
Karl Hase. Geschichte Jesu. Nach akademischen Vorlesungen. (The History of Jesus. Academic Lectures, revised.) Leipzig, 1876. 612 pp.
Willibald Beyschlag. Das Leben Jesu. First Part: Preliminary Investigations, 1885, 450 pp. Second Part: Narrative, 1886, 495 pp.; 2nd ed. 1887-1888.
Bernhard Weiss. Das Leben Jesu. 1st ed., 2 vols., 1882; 2nd ed., 1884. First vol., down to the Baptist’s question, 556 pp. Second vol., 617 pp.
“MY HOPE IS,” WRITES STRAUSS IN CONCLUDING THE PREFACE OF HIS NEW Life of Jesus, “that I have written a book as thoroughly well adapted for Germans as Renan’s is for Frenchmen.” He was mistaken; in spite of its title the book was not a book for the people. It had nothing new to offer, and what it did offer was not in a form calculated to become popular. It is true Strauss, like Renan, was an artist, but he did not write, like an imaginative novelist, with a constant eye to effect. His art was unpretentious, even austere, appealing to the few, not to the many. The people demand a complete and vivid picture. Renan had given them a figure which was theatrical no doubt, but full of life and movement, and they had been grateful to him for it. Strauss could not do that.
Even the arrangement of the work is thoroughly unfortunate. In the first part, which bears the title “The Life of Jesus,” he attempts to combine into a harmonious portrait such of the historical data as have some claim to be considered historical; in the second part he traces the “Origin and Growth of the Mythical History of Jesus.” First, therefore, he tears down from the tree the ivy and the rich growth of creepers laying bare the worn and corroded bark; then he fastens the faded growths to the stem again, and describes the nature, origin, and characteristics of each distinct species.
How vastly different, how much more full of life, had been the work of 1835! There Strauss had not divided the creepers from the stem. The straining strength which upheld this wealth of creepers was but vaguely suspected. Behind the billowy mists of legend we caught from time to time a momentary glimpse of the gigantic figure of Jesus, as though lit up by a lightning-flash. It was no complete and harmonious picture, but it was full of suggestions, rich in thoughts thrown out carelessly, rich in contradictions even, out of which the imagination could create a portrait of Jesus. It is just this wealth of suggestion that is lacking in the second picture. Strauss is trying now to give a definite portrait. In the inevitable process of harmonising and modelling to scale he is obliged to reject the finest thoughts of the previous work because they will not fit in exactly; some of them are altered out of recognition, some are filed away.
There is wanting, too, that perfect freshness as of the spring which is only found when thoughts have but newly come into flower. The writing is no longer spontaneous; one feels that Strauss is setting forth thoughts which have ripened with his mind and grown old with it, and now along with their definiteness of form have taken on a certain stiffness. There are now no hinted possibilities, full of promise, to dance gaily through the movement of his dialectic; all is sober reason—a thought too sober. Renan had one advantage over Strauss in that he wrote when the material was fresh to him-one might almost say strange to him-and was capable of calling up in him the response of vivid feeling.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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