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By Albert Schweitzer / Dodd, Mead and Company / 1914
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Of all his writings, “It is Schweitzer’s interpretation of Jesus and his teaching, especially regarding the kingdom of God, that has had the most influence on subsequent New Testament studies” (Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters). In this volume, Schweitzer takes up the topic of the historical Jesus, but with particular focus on the kingdom of God.
Many skeptical scholars of the day saw Jesus’ secrecy regarding his Messiahship as a later invention. Against this view, Schweitzer argued that the Gospel records were genuine on this account. However, his alternate view was no more congenial to orthodox Christianity. Schweitzer understood Jesus to be someone who saw himself as chosen by God to bring in the eschatological kingdom of God. Jesus therefore proclaimed an ethic that was congruent with the impending eschatological consummation. However, when that did not happen, Jesus sought to force this climactic event with his crucifixion. Instead of seeing the eschatological elements of Jesus’ ministry as a later invention—the view of liberal critical scholars—Schweitzer saw it as the authentic underpinning of Jesus’ message, ultimately mistaken though it was.