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The Quest of the Historical Jesus

Albert Schweitzer

Book Overview: 

In this book, Schweitzer traces the historical progress of 'Historical Jesus' research, from Hermann Reimarus in the mid 18th century, to William Wrede at the turn of the 20th. Schweitzer showed how Jesus' image had changed with the times and with the personal proclivities of the various authors. He concluded with his own synopsis and interpretation of what had been learned over the course of the previous century. He took the position that the life of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus' own convictions, which he characterized as those of late Jewish eschatology.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . his doctorate with a philosophical thesis on the immortality of the soul, Strauss, in 1832, wrote to him expressing the opinion that the belief in personal immortality could not properly be regarded as a consequence of the Hegelian system, since according [pg 070] to Hegel, it was not the subjective spirit of the individual person, but only the objective Spirit, the self-realising Idea which constantly embodies itself in new creations, to which immortality belongs.30

In October 1831 he went to Berlin to hear Hegel and Schleiermacher. On the 14th of November Hegel, whom he had visited shortly before, was carried off by cholera. Strauss heard the news in Schleiermacher's house, from Schleiermacher himself, and is said to have exclaimed, with a certain want of tact, considering who his informant was: “And it was to hear him that I came to Berlin!&. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Really just about as good as had been told. Some of the endless accounting for previous scholarship was a little boring, but his conclusions and interactions with them are often witty and intriguing. I'd give it 5 stars, but I think his general reaction against this scholarship is a little myopic...more

Great review of the "historical Jesus studies movement" from the Enlightenment till Schweitzer's time. A must read for anyone interested in how the major figures of this movement interpreted the text - their presuppositions and conclusions. Goes into great detail on the main interpreters.

This volume had been sitting around on the shelves for years, but only read years after the completion of seminary.

Albert Schweitzer was a hero to my family. During his years as a medical missionary in Gabon, Schweitzer would do annual tours as an organist, raising money for his work. Mother and...more

If you want to read a thorough overview and critique of the literature of the "historical Jesus" during the 1800's this is your book. Schweitzer's knowledge of those who came before him in this field is impressive. He introduces each author and their attempt at writing about a historical Jesus. H...more

Albert the Alsatian looked very similar to that other Albert, the Einstein. Did anyone ever see them in the same room? Schweitzer's 'Quest' is an authoritative journey through European eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century studies on the historical Jesus. Schweitzer cuts a swathe thr...more

Le protestantisme est un mouvement chrétien qui s’est formé en réaction aux abus de la tradition catholique, qui avait pratiquement remplacé les enseignements du Christ par l’établissement d’un système hiérarchique et d’une panoplie d’activités rituelles. En forçant le trait, on peut dire que la...more

REVIEW AND CRITIQUE Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede. Translated by W. Montgomery. New York, MacMillan, 1968.

The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1968) is the English translation of Schweitzer’s original work in German, V...more

In the 18th and 19th centuries, European academics not only tried to flesh out the historical Jesus, they also attempted to make sense of the Gospels as documents that at some level described natural events. Given that Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels are composed from much of Mark’s text and John’s...more

I do not think I have ever felt so much satisfaction at having completed a book. I took a very long time with this book as it sat beside my bed buried deep within my oft battery drained nook. Still something pushed me to the end persisting throughout the deep weeds of German theology. The more I...more

I am more convinced than I was before I started reading this book that the Jesus of the gospels did not exist. Albert Schweitzer does a good job outlining the critical lifes of Jesus that have been written and arrives at the conclusion that the Jesus of history is a fiction but he has a message o...more

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