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Jesus, Lives of.

Since about 1775 an immense literature has grown up which concerns itself with the life of Jesus. A survey chiefly of critical, negative works in this field is furnished in A. Schweitzer,* Von Reimarus zu Wrede (1906), 2d ed. 1913 entitled Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung, Eng. tr. of 1st ed. entitled The Quest of the Historical Jesus. A similar book bringing Schweitzer up to date and introd. several new viewpoints: C. C. McCown, The Search for the Real Jesus (1940); like Schweitzer's book, it is written from the viewpoint of the negative critic, but it is valuable because it acquaints one with the productions of radical and skeptical scholarship in this field. Some deny that Jesus ever lived; they speak of the story of His life as the Christ-myth (e.g., B. Bauer,* A. Kalthoff,* C. H. A. Drews*). They were refuted by S. J. Case,* The Historicity of Jesus. D. F. Strauss* advocated the “mythical” theory: Jesus was a hist. person, but we know few facts of His life; the Gospel accounts are results of mythical development. J. E. Renan,* Vie de Jésus, treated hist. facts more like a novelist than a historian. The “liberal” portrait of Jesus was drawn by J. F. W. Bousset,* K. G. A. v. Harnack,* and others who held that Jesus taught chiefly the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the value of human personality. The “eschatological” Jesus (the view that Jesus taught that the end of the world was coming very soon and that He would then be revealed as the Messiah) was the conception of Schweitzer and J. Weiss.* A. Edersheim,* F. W. Farrar,* J. Stalker,* A. Fahling,* et al. uphold the Scriptural presentation of the life of Jesus.

Form criticism (see Isagogics, 3) has tended to discourage attempts to write on the life of Jesus; many form critics hold that the chronological framework in the Bible accounts is hist. untrustworthy. Most Eng. critics have been conservative on this point, as witness accounts of the life of Jesus by Archibald Macbride Hunter (b. 1906), Vincent Taylor (b. 1887), John William Charles Wand (b. 1885) et al. Some words of Eur. RCs (e.g., Louis Claude Fillion [1843–1927], Léonce Loizeau de Grandmaison [1868–1927], Marie Joseph [or Joseph Marie; Albert] Lagrange [1855–1938], Jules Lebreton [1873–1956], Ferdinand Prat [1857–1938], Giuseppe Ricciotti [1890–1964]) are available in Eng. tr. Some students of R. Bultmann (see Demythologization; Existentialism, 1) have tried to break with his extreme hist. skepticism. This has led to a “new quest” of the hist. Jesus, with widely varying results. Best-known treatment is Günther Bornkamm (b. Görlitz, Ger., 1905; pastor; prof. Göttingen and Heidelberg), Jesus von Nazareth (1956; Eng. tr. 1960). Others include Ethelbert Stauffer (b. 1902), Jesus: Gestalt und Geschichte (1957; Eng. tr. 1960: Jesus and His Story); Walter Grundmann (b. 1906), Die Geschichte Jesu Christi (1957).


C. C. McCown, The Search for the Real Jesus (New York, 1940) and “Jesus, Son of Man: A Survey of Recent Discussion,” The Journal of Religion, XXVIII, No. 1 (January 1948), 1–12; J. M. Robinson, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus (London, 1959); Der historische Jesus und der kerygmatische Christus, ed. H. Ristow and K. Matthiae, 2d ed. (Berlin, 1961); H. Conzelmann, “Jesus Christus,” Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. K. Galling, 3d ed. (Tübingen, 1959), III, col. 619–653; F. C. Grant, “Jesus Christ,” The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. G. A. Buttrick et al. (New York, 1962), II, 869–896.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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