Jesus Christ, Biographical Studies of
JESUS CHRIST, BIOGRAPHICAL STUDIES OF
Biographical studies of Jesus Christ represent primarily not a question of historiography about the presence and reliability of authentic documents on the event of His having lived a human life but rather a double theological problem: the knowability of the historical Incarnation (epistemology of the Incarnation) and the significance of this event for the Christian. This article follows along the ages the unfolding of these two inseparably connected problems in five sections: (1) Lives of Jesus based on simple faith, (2) Jesus and the critics, (3) Lives of Jesus in the English-speaking world, (4) the Catholic development from apologetics to Christology, and (5) the imaginative Lives of Jesus.
Based on Simple Faith. The canonical Gospels, besides their kerygmatic and liturgical purpose, reveal a true historical interest in the earthly life of Jesus, a biographical interest that must, however, be measured by the standard of contemporary thinking. Christians have always desired to know more about the full human reality of the life of Jesus, not only as far as it concerns their own historical origin but also because this earthly life of the Lord determines the true and full reality of their own Christian existence. The same attitude is evident in the apocryphal writings that tried to fill in the blank spaces in Jesus' life, especially in its early stages, and thereby distorted His teaching with many, mostly Gnostic, additions [see W. Bauer, Das Leben Jesu im Zeitalter der neutestamentlichen Apokryphen (Tübingen 1909) and J. Walterscheid, Das Leben Jesu nach den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen (Düsseldorf 1953)]. Beginning with Origen [see R. M. Grant, The Earliest Lives of Jesus (London 1961)] and Melito of Sardes, a more historical realism can be observed in the desire to identify actual locations in Christ's early life. Moreover, the account (c. a.d. 400) of Egeria's pilgrimage to the Holy Land (see pil grimages, 2), the work of archdeacon Theodosius, De situ terrae sanctae (both given in Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 39:35–101, 135–150), and other similar writings (see B. Altaner, Patrology, tr. H. Graef 261–262) show that Christianity even at that early age understood itself as the continuation and historical unfolding of Christ.
In Early Christianity. Tatian's diatessaron (c. 170–180) was the first attempt to reconstruct the life of the Lord according to the Gospels. It had an enormous success in the Orient, and in some churches it even replaced the individual Gospels in the liturgy. Of doubtful authenticity, however, is the work of Ammonius of Alexandria (c. 220), who completed Matthew with marginal notes from the other Gospels (Patrologia Graeca, ed. J.P. Migne, 85:1381–92). In any case, this work was employed by Victor, Bishop of Capua (d. 554), as the basis for his Ammonii Alexandrini evangelicae harmoniae interprete Victore episcopo capuano, in which he used the Vulgate text (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 68:255–359).
A Spanish priest, C. V. Aquilinus Juvencus, approached the subject more freely by writing the life of Jesus, Historiae evangelicae libri IV, in the form of 3,211 hexameters. Caelius Sedulius first wrote the five books of his Paschale Carmen in verse, then completed it as Opus Paschale in prose (Patrologia Latina 19:354–752). In the early Middle Ages the same romantic approach is shown in caedmon's poetry (c. 680) and in cynewulf's The Christ [c. 750; see A. S. Cook, The Christ of Cynewulf: A Poem in Three Parts: The Advent, the Ascension and the Last Judgment (Boston 1910)]. Then there are the heliand (c. 850) in 6,000 verses [for the text see O. Behaghel (Tübingen 1958)]; the Liber evangeliorum theodisce conscriptus (between 863 and 871) by Otfrid of Weissenburg, OSB; the Cantilena de miraculis Christi (1063) by Ezzo von Bamberg, which became the song of the Crusaders; and the Xristos Paschon (11th century), a dramatic presentation in 2,640 verses of Christ's death and Resurrection.
The Oriental Church, even in more recent times showed no similar interest in the earthly life of Jesus. Oriental piety is centered more in the risen and eschatological Lord who is present in the liturgical performance of the mysteries and the life of the Church. On the other hand, Islam presents a picture of Jesus that is concerned with details of his earthly life. It draws on two traditions, the Jesus portrayed in the Qur’ān, and Jesus the wandering ascetic pictured in hundreds of pious tales in later Arabic literature (eighth century Iraq). Many of the details in the Qur’ān and in these stories have parallels in the
Gnostic Gospels. (see, T. Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus, Harvard University Press 2001).
In the Middle Ages. The crusades and the typically franciscan spirituality with its devotion toward the humanity of Jesus created a new attitude: pious meditation on the individual events in His life. The Meditationes vitae Christi of the 13th or 14th century had profound influence on art and literature until the 17th century. For a long time the work was attributed to St. bonaventure, but its author was most likely a certain Johannes a Caulibus (or Laudibus), although his authorship of it has recently been contested. The Vita Jesu Christi e quatuor evangeliis et scriptoribus orthodoxis concinnata by the Carthusian ludolph of saxony (1300–78) had 88 Latin editions and was translated into many modern languages. Almost as popular, especially in Italy, was the work De gestis Domini Salvatoris (15 v. 1338–47) by the Augustinian Simon Fidati of Cascia.
More scholarly interest is revealed in peter comestor's (d. 1179) Historia scholastica (Patrologia Latina 198:1053–1722), which includes a life of Jesus, and in Guyart des Moulin's Bible Historiale (1291–94). Moreover, the great scholastics dedicated a special part of their Christologies to the mysteries of the life of Jesus (see, e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 3a, 31–57).
From the 15th to the 17th Century. In this period the Gospel harmonies served as basic patterns for the lives of Jesus. Some examples are: Jean gerson (d. 1429), Monotessaron (printed in 1471); Cornelius jansen (the Elder), Bishop of Ghent, Concordia evangelica seu vita Jesu Christi ex quatuor evangeliis in unum caput congesta (Douai 1571); Antonius Bruich, Monotessaron breve (Cologne 1539), noteworthy because of the author's keen sense for the truly historical; William of Branteghem, a Carthusian from Antwerp, Jesu Christi vita iuxta quatuor evangelistarum narrationes (Antwerp 1537), with several French translations; and Sebastian Barradas, SJ, Commentaria in concordiam et historiam evangelicam (Coimbra 1599). Christian Andrichomius, a priest of Delft, Holland, published under the pseudonym Christianus Crucis his Vita Jesu Christi ex quatuor evangeliis breviter contexta (Antwerp 1578). The Spanish theologian Alfonso salmerÓn, SJ, edited his Commentaria in evangelicam historiam (Madrid 1598). Late products of the same type were George Heser, SJ (d.1686), Vitae D.N. Jesu Christi monotessaron evangelicum, and M. Azibert, Synopsis evangeliorum historica seu vitae D.N. Jesu Christi quadruplex et una narratio (Albi 1897).
Of the Protestant contributions especially noteworthy is Andreas osiander's Harmonia evangelica graece et latine (Basel 1537). Osiander, who firmly believed in
the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, reconstructed the life of Jesus with much care by using exclusively the words of the Bible. Other Protestant harmonies are: M. Chemnitz, Harmonia quatuor evangelistarum, continued and published by his student P. Leyser (1593–1611); J. Clericus (Amsterdam 1699); N. Toinard (Paris 1707); and J. J. Griesbach, Synopsis evangeliorum Matthaei, Marci et Lucae (Halle 1774–76, 4th ed. 1822). In the 20th century a number of Catholic authors attempted Gospel harmonies with varying degrees of success: S. Hartdegen (in English, Paterson, New Jersey, 1942), R. Cox (in English, Auckland 3d ed. 1954), A. Tricot (in French, Tournai 2d ed. 1946), and J. Bover (in Spanish, Barcelona 1943).
The meditative types of the lives of Jesus were restored under the influence of St. ignatius of loyola. In his spiritual exercises the 2d and 3d weeks were consecrated to meditations on the life of Christ. N. Avancini's (d. 1611) Vita et doctrina Jesu Christi had more than 50 editions. P. de Ribadeneira, Vida y misterios de Cristo Nuestro Senor, Luis de la Puente, Meditaciones de los misterios de nuestra S. Fe (Valladolid 1605, followed by more than 400 editions), and many other similar writings emphasized the meaning of Christ's earthly life for the Christian's own life.
The age of the Reformation, besides making a greater use of vernacular languages, introduced a more acute sense of the historical. Examples in this category are: Ludovico Filcaja, Vita del nostro Salvatore Jesu Christo (Venice 1548); Laurence Forer, SJ, professor at Ingolstadt
and Döllingen, Das Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi (Munich 1637); Bernard de Montereuil, SJ, Vie du Sauveur du monde Jésus-Christ, tirée du text des IV évangiles reduite en un corps d'histoire (Paris 1639, reed. many times); G. S. menochio, the well-known exegete, Historia sacra della vita … del nostro redentore Gesù Cristo (Rome 1633); and Nicholas Letourneaux, Histoire de la vie de N.S. Jésus-Christ (Paris 1678; somewhat Jansenistically infected). Sebastian Le Nain de Tillemont, the famous French Church historian, wrote as an introduction to his monumental work on the first six Christian centuries a very solid and critical life of Jesus. The greatest success of the 17th century was Martinus Linus von Cochem, OFMCap, Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi (Frankfurt 1677), which from the fourth edition (1860) on was entitled Das grosse Leben Christi. Still being reprinted in the early part of the 20th century, it has had some 260 editions.
In the 18th Century. A. calmet presented his excellent Histoire de la vie et des miracles de Jésus-Christ (Paris 1720) as a worthy contribution of his exegetical research. The outstanding life of Jesus published in that century was the Histoire de la vie de N.S. Jésus-Christ depuis son Incarnation jusqu'à son Ascension (3 v. Avignon 1774) by F. de Ligny (1709–88). This work, often reissued and translated into English, was regarded as a classic in France until J. E. Renan's superseded it.
The most original life of Jesus from this period was written by Clemens M. Brentano. It was based on the visions of Anna Catherina emmerich (1774–1824). The Passion story was published first (Sulzbach 1833), then came the three volumes of Das Leben Jesu (ed. K. E. Schmöger, Regensburg 1858–60), and finally the collection of all visions, which included the life of Mary, appeared under the title Das arme Leben und bittere Leiden unseres Herren Jesu Christi (Regensburg 1881, 5th ed. 1920; English tr. 2d ed. London 1907).
Jesus and the Critics. A revolutionary change came about between 1774 and 1778 when G. E. lessing published the Wolfenbüttel Fragmenten of an unknown author [English tr. by A. Voysey, a deist, The Object of Jesus and His Disciples as Seen in the New Testament (1879)]. The "Fragments" were parts from the Apologie oder Schutzschrift für die vernünftige Verehrer Gottes, by Hemann Samuel reimarus (1694–1768), a teacher of Oriental languages in Hamburg. In Reimarus's writing, which he himself did not dare to publish, the postulates of deism (of English origins and propagated on the Continent by Voltaire, J. J. Rousseau, and by the Encyclopedists) confronted, for the first time, the historical reality of the Incarnation. According to Reimarus, Jesus was merely a man whose doctrine did not go, in its content,
beyond the Jewish-apocalyptic expectations of the kingdom of God; His Resurrection was a fraud perpetrated by the Apostles.
Earlier Rationalists. J. S. Semler's immediate answer (Halle 1779) could not stop the growing flow of rationalistic attacks on the real life of Jesus. K. H. G. Venturini's (1768–1849) Natürliche Geschichte des grossen Propheten von Nazareth (3 v. 1800; 2d ed. 4 v. Jena 1805) is full of exaggerations. He proposed a frivolous view of the Nativity, and according to him Jesus was crucified by the disillusioned populace and brought back to life by His friends after His apparent death. Venturini alluded to an essene affiliation of Jesus, a theory that was taken up by Salvator in his Life of Jesus (2 v. Paris 1838). A much milder, more esthetic approach was shown in J.G. von herder (1744–1803), Vom Erlöser des Menschen nach unseren drei ersten Evangelien (Riga 1796) and Von Gottes Sohn der Weltheiland nach Johannes Evangelium (Riga 1797). Herder was the first to insist that any historical harmonization between John and the Synoptics must be regarded as impossible. H. E. G. Paulus
(1761–1851) in his Das Leben Jesu als Grundlage einer reinen Geschichte des Urchristentums (2 v. Heidelberg 1828) mercilessly eliminated everything that is miraculous or supernatural.
Later Rationalists. F. D. E. schleiermacher's (1768–1834) mild resistance to these rationalistic interpretations in his Berlin University lectures on the life of Jesus (1831–32, ed. posthumously by Rüterich, Berlin 1864) was soon followed by the most extreme and logical explosion of rationalistic thought. D. F. strauss (1808–74), who had attended Schleiermacher's lectures, published Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet (2 v. Tübingen 1835; English tr. The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, from the 4th German ed., London 1846, 3d ed. 1898). Influenced by G. W. F. hegel, Strauss first proposed the myth theory: although Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person, in the preaching of His disciples the true facts of His life and teachings were completely covered by Old Testament messianic dreams and other mythological imaginations; unintentionally the Gospel story became nothing else but a presentation of primitive Christian ideology that resembled history. Later, Strauss published a somewhat milder version of his ideas in Das Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk bearbeitet (Leipzig 1863). However, in answering the publication of Schleiermacher's lectures, he returned to his extreme views in Der Christus des Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte (Berlin 1865).
The uproar of criticism from all over Germany quickly revealed the weak points of Strauss's rationalism. He had completely neglected sound and serious textual criticism and interpreted the Gospel history entirely on the basis of his philosophical presuppositions. One of his most renowned critics was J. A. W. Neander (1789–1850) in Das Leben Jesu Christi (Hamburg 1837; English tr. The Life of Jesus Christ, London 1851). Another leader of the Vermittlungs-Theologie who was strongly critical of Strauss was J. P. Lange (1802–84); he published a life of Jesus in three volumes (1844–47; English tr. 4 v. 1872).
In France, J. E. renan (1823–92) published, as the first volume of his Histoire des origines du Christianisme, his La Vie de Jésus-Christ (Paris 1863; English tr. London 1864). In Germany, Renan was not taken seriously, and his book was not translated into German until 1895. Actually, his Life of Jesus was a literary rather than a scholarly achievement. Renan proposed a legend hypothesis in order to do away with the miraculous and supernatural. According to him, Jesus was a likeable, peace-loving, good rabbi, and only the contradictions of His contemporaries turned Him into an apocalyptic revolutionary. In answering Renan, more than 95 books were published in France; one of the best was Jésus-Christ, son temps, sa vie, son oeuvre (2 v. Paris 1865; English tr. London 1869) by E. D. de Pressensé (1824–91), a conservative Protestant. Also, the Catholic A. J. A. gratry answered in Jésus-Christ, réponse à M. Renan (Paris 1864).
Liberal School. The rationalistic bias of Strauss and Renan and of many other authors of the same trend had a greater impact on the public mind than on the scholarly theological research that was represented by the so-called liberal school in Germany. Basing themselves on the substantial historical reliability of Mark, the liberals tried to understand psychologically the personality of Jesus, especially His messianic consciousness. The main representatives were K. T. Keim (1825–78), Die Geschichte Jesu von Nazara (3 v. Zürich 1867–72; English tr. 6 v. London 1873–83), a moderately rationalistic work that rejected the Resurrection and insisted on the priority of Matthew; K. A. von Hase (1800–90), Geschichte Jesu (Leipzig 1876), the first survey of previous lives; H. J. holtzmann (1832–1910); and B. Weiss (1827–1918), Leben Jesu (2 v. 1882), of which the English translation, The Life of Jesus (Edinburgh 1883), was a standard book in its time.
The school of comparative religion tried to explain the phenomenon of Christianity as a natural development arising from the contemporary religious situation, from Hellenism, from Oriental influences, and especially from Esserie-apocalyptic speculations. Among its main representatives were: A. Hilgenfeld (1823–1907); O. Pfeiderer (1839–1908); and especially W. bousset (1865–1920), who endeavored to deduce Christianity from Hellenistic influences on Jewish religious thinking in his Jesus (Halle 1904; English tr. London and New York 1906) and particularly in his Kyrios Christos (Göttingen 1913, 3d ed. 1926). A modern representative of this trend is R. otto, Reich Gottes und Menschensohn (Munich 1934, 3d ed. 1954; English tr. Boston 1943, repr. 1957).
Toward the end of the 19th century the eschatological school came into prominence. J. Weiss (1863–1914) in his Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes (Göttingen 1892) made the first attempt at a consistent eschatology: Jesus was not a moral preacher as the liberals thought; He announced the imminent coming of the eschatological kingdom of God in which He would be revealed as the true Messiah. A. Schweitzer (1875–1965), in his studies on the lives of Jesus, Von Reimarus zu Wrede (Tübingen 1902) and Geschichte der Leben Jesu Forschung [Tübingen 1906, 6th ed. 1951; English tr. The Quest for the Historical Jesus (London 1954)], developed the concepts of "interim ethics" and "imminent parousia." For the later development of the eschatological school, see W. G. Kümmel, Verheissung und Erfüllung (Zürich 1945; English tr. Promise and Fulfillment, London 1957). Kümmel rejected not only Schweitzer's views but also the more moderate "realized eschatology" of C. H. Dodd and T. W. Manson and the "center eschatology" of O. Cullmann, and he insisted on God's active presence in Christ.
Form Criticism School. The problem of messia nism, not yet fully answered, was forced to retreat in favor of an even more basic question, raised by Biblical form criticism. W. Wrede (1859–1906) in his Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien (Göttingen 1901) overthrew the Marcan hypothesis that sought to derive all early Christology from Mark. After the publication of M. Köhler's (1835–1917) Der sogenannte historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus (Leipzig 1892; rev. E. Wolf, Munich 1953, 2d ed. 1956; English tr. Philadelphia 1964), it became more and more axiomatic that there was an insurmountable abyss between the Christ of faith, presented in the Gospels, and the Jesus of history, of whom we have very little information.
The principles of the form criticism proposed by H. gunkel for the Old Testament were first applied to the Gospels by M. Dibelius and R. Bultmann. They endeavored to show that these accounts had been formed and shaped by the faith consciousness of the primitive Christian community. Events and teachings were selected and emphasized according to their existential meaning for Christian life (Sitz im Leben ). K. L. Schmidt in his Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu (Berlin 1919) pointed out that even the chronological and topographical data of the Gospel stories were chosen and arranged in order to illustrate doctrinal tenets.
Bultmann, by pushing this method to its extremes, reduced one's total knowledge of the historical existence of Jesus to a merely subjective belief in His call to conversion. The only really meaningful thing for Christian existence in the life of Jesus is that one perceives God's eschatological call for decision. All the rest of the Gospel stories stems from mythological attempts for a human realization of this call. In order to make the essential message of the Gospels acceptable to modern man, the Gospels must be demythologized (see demythologiz ing). "I do indeed think that we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either and are, moreover, fragmentary and often legendary; and other sources about Jesus do not exist" [Jesus and the Word (London 1934) 8; from the German Jesus, Berlin 1926, 2d ed. 1951].
Dibelius was less radical than Bultmann. In his Jesus (Tübingen 1926; 3d ed. Berlin 1960; English tr. 1949) and also in his earlier Die Botschaft von Jesus Christus (1935; English tr. 1939), he tried to recognize a historical process in the life of Jesus. Still, also for him everything is centered on the actuality of the kingdom of God that in Jesus came irresistibly and closely upon us.
Reaction. The post-Bultmannian Protestant research worked hard to overcome the extreme conclusions of the master. G. Bornkamm, in his Jesus von Nazareth (Stuttgart 1956, English tr. New York and London 1960), still had a rather negative outlook: for him the Jesus of history can be known only as a sign, not as a reality. E. Käsemann ["Das Problem des historischen Jesus," Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 51 (1954) 125–153 and "Neutestamentliche Fragen von heute" ibid. 54 (1957) 1–21] and E. Fuchs ["Die Frage nach dem Historischen Jesus" ibid. 53 (1956) 210–229, and "Glaube und Geschichte im Blick auf die Frage nach dem historischen Jesus," ibid. 54 (1957) 117–156] insisted emphatically that the Christ of faith could not be divorced from the Jesus of history. Along this line most of the modern scholars, such as N. A. Dahl, H. Riesenfeld, G. Ebeling, J. Jeremias, H. Diem, have prepared the way for a more positive view and have tried to free the exegesis from the contamination of philosophical presuppositions. A faith without fact, without a person at its center, means mere docetism. All of Bultmann's critics have agreed that the problem must be restated. New methods were already proposed by W. Grundmann, Die Geschichte Jesu Christi (Berlin 1957), and especially by E. Stauffer, Jesus: Gestalt und Geschichte [Bern 1957; English tr. London 1960; see also his Die Botschaft Jesu (Bern 1959)]. H. Conzelmann, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 621) thinks that, against the basic conclusion of the form criticism, it is now generally accepted that the faith of the primitive community was not exclusively based on the Easter events but rather went back substantially to the historical life of Jesus. H. W. Bartsch, although accepting the continuity between the life and teachings of Jesus and the ke rygma of the primitive community, still does not wish to base the Christian faith on the Jesus of history [Das historische Problem des Leben Jesu (Munich 1960)].
Other Non-Catholic Works. In France, there are two recent standard works on the life of Jesus: M. Goguel's Jésus-Christ (Paris 1930; English tr. The Life of Jesus, New York 1933, repr. 1960), with an excellent chapter, "The Life of Jesus in Research" (37–69), with full bibliographical information; and C. de Guignebert's Jesus (Paris 1933; English tr. New York 1935, repr. 1956), which is completely rationalistic.
The best work of Jewish scholarship on the life of Jesus is J. Klausner's Jesus of Nazareth (Hebrew original, 1925; German tr. Berlin 2d ed. 1952; English tr. New York 1953). An interesting attempt was made by A. Robert, Jesus of Nazareth: The Hidden Years (English tr. from the Fr., New York 1962), to understand the human religious life of Jesus from its devout Jewish background.
The English-Speaking World. The problems in the research on the life of Jesus in Germany affected also the English-speaking world. However, English and American scholars refused to accept the extreme conclusions of the 19th-century rationalism or those of the 20th-century form criticism. There were exceptions; e.g., C. C. Hennel, a retired London merchant, in his book, An Enquiry concerning the Origins of Christianity (London 1838), followed the lines proposed by Strauss. (Strauss himself wrote the foreword to the German translation of 1840.) In his Myth, Magic and Morals: A Study of Christian Origins (London 1909) and The Historical Christ (London 1914), F. C. Conybeare claimed that Paul's fictitious Christ of the faith who appears in the Gospels and in the dogmas of the Church is entirely different from the Jesus who lived in reality. In the United States, J. MacKinnon Robertson (1856–1933), Christianity and Mythology (1900) and Jesus and Judas (1927), and W. B. Smith (1850–1934), The Pre-Christian Jesus (1906), are the representatives of radical views.
Before World War II. Among the lives of Jesus written in English in the 19th century are: F. W. Farrar, Life of Christ (London 1874), an impressive Christian answer to Renan, which in one year had 12 editions; J. C. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ (2 v. London 1877); A. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (2v. London 1883), erudite but at times lacking in critical judgment; and W. sanday, Outline of the Life of Christ (Edinburgh 1909, a reprint of his article from J. Hastings and J. A. Selbia, eds., Dictionary of the Bible ).
Several works on the life of Christ appeared in the 20th century before World War II: E. Digges la Touche, The Person of Christ in Modern Thought (London 1912);T. J. Thorburn, Jesus the Christ: Historical or Mythical? (Edinburgh 1912); A. C. Headlam, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ (1923); A. W. Robinson, The Christ and the Gospels (1924); J. Warschauer, The Historical Life of Jesus (London 1927), based on A. Schweitzer's principles; S. J. Case, The Historicity of Jesus (Chicago 1912); and Jesus: A New Biography (Chicago 1927), written in a truly Christian spirit and judged by J. M. Robinson to be the best available; C. Gore, Jesus of Nazareth (1919);B. W. Bacon, Jesus the Son of God (1930); F. C. Burkitt, Jesus Christ (1932); B. S. Easton, Christ and the Gospels (1930), and What Jesus Thought (1938).
Since World War II. Among the lives of Christ published since 1945 are: V. Taylor, The Life and Ministry of Jesus (1945); G. S. Duncan, Jesus, Son of Man: Studies in a Modern Portrait (1947); C. J. Cadoux, Life of Jesus (1948); E. J. Goodspeed, Life of Jesus (1950); H. E. W. Turner, Jesus, Master and Lord (2d ed. 1954); H. R. Fuller, The Mission and Achievement of Jesus (1954); W. E. Bundy, Jesus and the First Three Gospels (1955); L. F. Church, The Life of Jesus (1957); and J. Knox, Jesus, Lord and Christ (1958).
Critical Works. The English answer to the messianic problem was given by the school of realized eschatology, represented by scholars such as C. H. Dodd in his History and the Gospel (1938), W. Manson in his Jesus the Messiah (1943), and T. W. Manson in his The Servant Messiah: A Study of the Public Ministry of Jesus (1953). According to these scholars Jesus understood Himself in the sense of a synthesis of the concepts of the son of man and that of the Servant of the Lord (see suffering servant, songs of the) combined with the idea of the presence of the kingdom of God.
In regard to the problems raised by form criticism, the extreme conclusions were not accepted by scholars in England or the United States. Some exceptions were A. E. J. Rawlinson, F. C. Grant, and especially W. E. Bundy in his Jesus and the First Three Gospels (1955). In a symposium [see Expository Times 53 (1941–42) 60–66,175–177, 248–251] V. Taylor, T. W. Manson, and C. J. Cadoux, though agreeing that it is impossible to write a real biography of Jesus, still rejected the Bultmannian exaggerations in this regard. Also, G. V. Jones, Christology and Myth in the New Testament [(London 1956) 14–16, English bibliography], and H. E. W. Turner, Jesus, Master and Lord (London 2d ed. 1954) are on the conservative and constructive side.
In fact, all over the world the-life-of-Jesus research seems to have taken a more positive turn. J. M. Robinson, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus (London 1959; German tr. Kerygma und der historische Jesus, Zurich 1960, with more recent bibliography) rejects the attempts of the school of realized eschatology and of E. Stauffer and thinks that the problem has to be reformulated on an existentialist basis. According to Stauffer the historian mediates and builds a bridge for his generation to persons who lived in the past. He can do this on the basis of the Gospels also in regard to Jesus. Thus, by using the historicocritical method properly one can arrive at the very words of Jesus and so reach beyond the understanding of the primitive Church to the true understanding that Jesus had of His own existence. E. Käsemann may be correct, however, in his "The Problem of the Historical Jesus," Essays on New Testament Themes (London 1964) 15–47, in saying that a historian may state the existence of the riddle of Jesus but he will never be able to answer and solve it.
Catholic Development from Apologetics to Christology. Lives of Jesus written by Catholics in the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, which were based on the assumption of the full historical value of the Gospels, are still of value despite the valid observations of form criticism. Worthy of mention are: P. J. Schegg, Sechs Bücher des Lebens Jesu (2 v. Freiburg 1874–75);P. Naumann, Das Leben unseres Herren und Heilandes Jesus Christus (3 v. Prague 1875–77); J. Grimm, Das Leben Jesu nach den vier Evangelien (7 v. Regensburg 1876–99); P. H. J. Coleridge, The Life of Our Life (London 1869); J. N. Sepp and D. B. haneberg, Das Leben Jesu (7 v. 1843–46, 4th ed. Munich 1898); A. J. Maas, The Life of Christ according to Gospel History (4th ed. St. Louis 1891; repr. 1954); Christ in Type and Prophecy (New York 1893–96); and "Jesus Christ," The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. C. G. Herbermann et al. 8:374–385.
In French, E. Bougaud, Jésus-Christ (Paris 1884), and P. Didon, OP, Jésus-Christ (2 v. Paris 1891; English tr. New York 1891), are both more devotional than scholarly, yet the latter is based on serious research. The real answer to Renan was given by H. C. Fouard, La Vie de N.S. Jésus-Christ (2 v. Paris 1880, 21st ed. 1911; English tr. 1891). Equally thorough and scholarly is É. P. le camus, La Vie de N.S. Jésus-Christ (2 v. Paris 1883; English tr. 1908).
Apologetical Works. Noteworthy achievements among the more recent apologetical lives of Jesus are: H. Felder, Jesus Christus (2 v. Paderborn 1911–14; English tr. Christ and the Critics, London 1924); A. Meyenberg, Leben Jesu Werk (3 v. Luzern 1922–32); and L. C. Fillion, Jésus-Christ (3 v. Paris 1922; English tr. St. Louis 1928–29). Deserving of special mention are: L. de grandmaison, Jésus-Christ, (2 v. Paris 1928, 23d ed. 1941); M. Lepin, Jésus-Christ, sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris 1912) and Le Christ Jésu, son existence historique et sa divinité (Paris 1929), both still ranking among the best;M. J. lagrange, L'Évangile de Jésus-Christ (Paris 1929, 2d ed. 1954), which unites modern criticism with Catholic orthodoxy; and J. lebreton, The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ, Our Lord (French ed. 2 v. Paris 1931, 2d ed. 1947; English tr. London 1935, repr. 1950). J. Sicken-berger, Das Leben Jesu nach den vier Evangelien (Münster 1933), is somewhat outdated; J. Christiani, Jésus-Christ, fils de Dieu (3 v. Lyons 1934); and A. goodier's The Public Life of Jesus (3 v. London 1930) and The Passion and Death of Jesus (London 1933) are devotional rather than scholarly.
Interesting among the most modern publications are:F. M. Willam, Das Leben Jesu im Lande und Volke Israel (10th ed., Freiburg 1960–61; English tr. St. Louis 1944), which paints an excellent portrait of Jesus' contemporary settings; J. Pickl, Messias König Jesus (Munich 1939; English tr. St. Louis 1946), which gives a good picture of Roman military life and guerrilla warfare and conveys new insights into the Passion of Jesus; and W. Beilner, Christus und die Pharisaer (Vienna 1959), which elaborates on another important aspect on a solid exegetical basis. More comprehensive lives are: G. Ricciotti, The Life of Christ (Milan 1941; English tr, Milwaukee 1947); H. Daniel-Rops, Jesus and His Times (New York 1956, from the French); and A. fernÁndez truyols, The Life of Christ (Madrid 1954; English tr. Westminster, Maryland 1958). The most recent work by an American Catholic is F. J. Sheen, Life of Christ (New York 1958).
Theological Works. After the modernistic assumptions of a gradual and purely human development of Jesus' messianic consciousness had been rejected, Catholic authors, in treating the psychological problem of the life of Jesus, were more concerned about the Chalcedonian orthodoxy of the metaphysical divine sonship than about the reality of a truly human historical existence. The turn is marked by P. Galtier, L'Unité du Christ (Paris 1939). R. Guardini, Der Herr (Würzburg 11th ed. 1959; English tr. The Lord, Chicago 1937, 5th ed. 1954); K. Adam, Jesus Christus (Düsseldorf 8th ed. 1949; English tr. The Christ of Our Faith, New York 1957); and A. Graham, The Christ of Catholicism (London 1947) fully acknowledge the modern theological and psychological problem of the life of Jesus without sacrificing Catholic orthodoxy. The reinterpretation of Jesus' consciousness of His own divinity—for which, according to K. Rahner and J. Galot, the beatific vision does not seem any more to be a conditio sine qua non —makes it possible to accept a real, human, historical progress in His life. How much of this life can be reconstructed on the basis of Biblical and archeological research remains another problem. But according to H. Vögtle (Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. J. Hofer and K. Rahner, 5:923) a minimalistic evaluation of the cognoscibility of the historical facts of Jesus' human life can be much more erroneous than the basic confidence in the truly historical value of the Gospel narratives.
The theological problem here lies, perhaps, not so much in going back beyond the Christ of faith to the Jesus of history—for here the answer depends entirely on the different ecclesiological conceptions—as in the transition from the Jesus of history to the Christ of faith. What was the basis on which the Apostles recognized and accepted this Man as the Messiah and, ultimately, as the trinitarian Son of God? Was their faith and the subsequent faith of the Church founded on the life of Jesus that was exposed to everybody, to all human observation and judgment? Or is the historical human life of Jesus to be regarded as the visible sacramental presence of which the inner mystery—now and then flashing through the mortal exterior in the strange aura of miraculous phenomena—cannot be comprehended by merely human intelligence but solely by the faith that is a grace given by God?
The rationalistic refusal to accept the Jesus of history in order to save the transcendent God of reason; the liberal attempts to consider the life of Jesus as a purely human and moral phenomenon so as to save Jesus the man in His admirable human reality; or Bultmann's concern to save the divine reality of Jesus by demythologizing the Gospel and reducing the divine in Him to mere subjectivity; or all the other Protestant theories that change the full reality of the Incarnation of the Word to a mere "word event" (Wortereignis )—all are ultimately rooted in the confusion over the radical theological problem of a true ontological encounter between God and man in the mystery of the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, as Rahner states, not only is an individual human nature assumed by the Son of God, but also the whole of human history is assumed by Him. As the historical Jesus He became part of man's mortal history, and through His death, Resurrection, and Ascension He transcended it and became the Lord of history. Only after a due clarification of such essentially theological problems, and particularly those concerning the dynamic, personal, social, and ontological structure of the Incarnation, will it be possible to reconsider successfully the hitherto somewhat Monophysitically—either too divinely or too humanly—conceived life of Christ.
Imaginative Lives of Jesus. T. Ziolkowski divides the fictionalizing biographies into two principal groups. There is the group that he calls "modern apocrypha," a blend of scholarship, fiction, and literary forgery, that claim to be based on documents, newly discovered, that throw new light on the life of Jesus—notably on the socalled Silent Years before he began his public ministry. A notable example of this kind of fictional biography is La vie inconnue de Jésus Christ by Nicolas Notovitch (1894). Notovitch, a Russan war correspondent, alleged to have discovered an ancient "Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men," during his travels to Tibet in 1887. Another example of this kind of apocrypha is Der Benan-Brief published by Ernst von der Planitz (1910), based on the letter allegedly written by Benan, a priest at Memphis, who described how Jesus' reputation as a great healer dates from the time he was studying medicine in Egypt.
The second group of fictionalized biographies had precedents in the early Latin poets, the mystery plays of the Middle Ages, and modern literature that aimed to make the figure of Jesus appealing to contemporary audiences and had as their purpose pious meditation on his life. In more recent times the most widely circulated was Ernest Renan's Vie de Jésus (1863) "whose critical insufficiency is matched only by its aesthetic charm" (Ziolkowski). Although Renan manifested an anti-Christian bias, his work owed its popularity in large part to the fact that many moderns are more interested in the human reality of Jesus than in His divinity—although in a way that does not necessarily exclude faith in His divinity. Giovanni Papini argued in his introduction to his Story of Christ (Storia di Cristo, Florence, 1921), perhaps the greatest success since Renan, that since every generation has its own concerns it is necessary to translate the Gospel into their terms. Papini was followed by a series of "Jesus books" as varied as the points of view of their authors: F. Timmermann, Das Jesuskind in Flandern (1923); Emil Ludwig, Der Menschensohn (1928); D. Mereshkowksi, Jesus the Unknown (1932) and Jesus Who Is to Come (1934); Shalom Asch, The Nazarene (1939); Edzar Schaper (converted to Catholicism in 1952), Das Leben Jesu (1936); and Fulton Oursler, The Greatest Story Ever Told (1949). For all its factual detail Jim Bishop's effort to describe The Day Christ Died (1957) as if he were a journalist reporting the day's news from Jerusalem is a fictional account. Two of the most imaginative (and popular) fictionalizing biographies in the mid-twentieth century were Robert Graves's King Jesus (1946) and Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ (1953). Despite Graves's claim that "every important element in the story is based on some tradition however tenuous" and that he took pains to verify the historical background, it reflects his pagan sympathies. Kazantakis makes no pretense at historical accuracy. His is a bold and highly personal interpretation of Jesus. "That part of Christ's nature which was profoundly human," he writes in the prologue, "helps us to understand him, and love him and to pursue his Passion as though it were our own."
It should be noted that these fictionalizing biographies must be distinguished from another genre that Ziolkowski calls "fictional transfigurations." The latter are works of fiction that take Jesus' life as a pattern for an entirely modern plot much as James Joyce did with Odysseus in his Ulysses. Among Ziolkowski's examples are such twentieth-century novels as Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, Ignazio Silone's Bread and Wine, and Nikos Kanzantzakis'The Greek Passion. The parallels are essentially formal. Often the Christ-figure in works of this genre has little resemblance to the moral values and religious attitudes of the Jesus of the Gospels.
Bibliography: j. m. bellamy, Les Biographies nouvelles de N.S. Jésus-Christ et les commentaires récents de l'Évangile (Vannes 1892). w. sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research (New York 1908). w. d. mackenzie, j. hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 v. (Edinburgh 1908–27) 7:505–551. h. weinel, Jesus im 19. Jahrhundert (3d ed. Tübingen 1914). g. baldensperger, "Un Demi-siècle de recherches sur l'historicité de Jésus," Revue de théologie et de philosophie 12 (1924) 161–210, f. m. braun, Où en est le problème de Jésus? (Paris 1932). j. klausner, Encyclopedia Judaica: Das Judentum in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 10 v. (Berlin 1928–34) 9:52–77. e. f. scott, "Recent Lives of Jesus," Harvard Theological Review 26 (1934) 1–32. h. anderson, Jesus and the Christian Origins: A Commentary on Modern Viewpoints (New York 1964). a. paton and l. pope, "The Novelist and Christ," The Saturday Review of Literature (Dec. 4,1954). r. detweiler, "Christ and the Christ Figure in American Fiction," The Christian Scholar (Summer 1964). t. ziolkowski, Fictional Transfigurations of Christ (Princeton 1972).
[c. h. henkey/eds.]