The Life of Jesus
by Ernest Renan
This was the first biography of Jesus to present him as a gifted and spiritual man, but as a man only, who was entirely human. He had wisdom, taught ... Show synopsis This was the first biography of Jesus to present him as a gifted and spiritual man, but as a man only, who was entirely human. He had wisdom, taught using parables, but being human, the Jesus of Renan was clever and opportunistic in his approach to achieving his aims. As time goes on, Jesus is shown to become increasingly enthusiastic and fanatical in the eyes of the author, to the point of deliberately allowing himself to be killed. Although one cannot prove this book to be more accurate than the traditional story (it is a matter of interpretation and opinion), it does offer a different view of Jesus that has been both criticized and praised. Renan had studied to be a priest by attending Catholic seminaries, had taken the minor orders of the Roman Church, but in 1845 abandoned the faith. This work sparked fierce controversy because of his priesthood connection and it caused him to be dismissed from the Chair of Hebrew at the College de France. This was the first in a series of four books meant to outline the complete history and formation of the Christian faith. Considered a classic work to this day, it is still widely referenced.