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By David Friedrich Strauss / Swan Sonnenschein & Co. / 1902
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According to Schweitzer, the quest for the historical Jesus began with Reimarus. As his biographer, David Friedrich Strauss is the man who brought Reimarus to public light and carried on his work in his German Das Leben Jesu. With the English translation of this massive volume, take a firsthand look into the methods and theories of this early critical scholar whose work would shape the trajectory of Jesus studies into the present day.
“The Life of Jesus begins with a development of history and an overview of mythological, historical and natural criticisms. Rejecting both the ‘rationalists’ (explaining the miraculous events of the Bible through scientific means) and the ‘supernaturalists’ (accepting miracles as a possibility), Strauss advocated a third approach to the gospel stories—the ‘mythical approach.’ He argued that, instead of recording an event that actually happened, the gospels use religious imagery derived from tradition to express the spiritual significance of various events in Jesus’ life. He asserts that the gospel writers assigned Jewish ideas related to the character and action of the Messiah to the figure Jesus in order to present Him as the Messiah” (Lexham Bible Dictionary).