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The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (Lives of Jesus) Paperback – February 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0962364266 ISBN-10: 0962364266 Edition: Sigler Press ed

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Paperback, February 1, 1994
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Lives of Jesus
  • Paperback: 812 pages
  • Publisher: Sigler Press; Sigler Press ed edition (February 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0962364266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0962364266
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,677,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'We distinguish by the name evangelical mythus a narrative relating directly or indirectly to Jesus, which may be considered not as the expression of a fact, but as the product of an idea of his earliest followers: such a narrative being mythical in proportion as it exhibits this character . . . . The mythus presents two phases: in the first place it is not history; in the second it is fiction, the product of the particular mental tendency of a certain community' - Strauss' Life of Jesus, volume one, trans. George Eliot --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Don G. Evans on October 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Strauss's 1835 Life of Jesus is a classic work which was the first to systematically examine the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life with the express purpose of trying to determine what is "mythical" as opposed to historical in them. The criteria he used to make this distinction are substantially the same as those used by critical scholars today, starting with a fundamental conviction that events in the Gospels which require a suspension of ordinary physical laws (walking on water, stilling storms, raising the dead, healing the blind) cannot be accepted as historical but should be understood as myths added to the narrative to bolster the early Church's claims of Jesus' divine commission. In Strauss's day, it was fashionable for rationalist scholars to try to provide naturalistic explanations for miraculous happenings. Strauss effectively demolishes their arguments by showing that they do not fit the plain sense of the texts and are usually harder to swallow than simple belief in the miracle itself.
To a modern student of critical historical Jesus literature, Strauss's approach to the texts will seem naïve. There is little in his exegesis that takes into account evolving strains of tradition reflected in the texts, rather he reads them as literally as possible, pointing out difficulties and inconsistencies that arise, particularly when more than one evangelist reports the same incident.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By BHM on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is an English translation of a classic German work written by David Strauss in the middle of the nineteenth century; most of the translation was done by the well-known novelist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). This is no lightweight monograph: Strauss is a scholar who draws on the relevant ancient sources and sprinkles his text with quotations in Greek, Latin and, to a lesser extent, Hebrew. However, only rarely does the argument turn on a lexical or grammatical peculiarity of one of these languages.
Strauss was one of the first theologians to perform a systematic analysis of the text of the New Testament from an essentially modern viewpoint. (For example, he does not believe in the existence of angels or demons.) Strauss works his way through the NT, taking each event or story as it occurs and subjecting it to a painstaking analysis. He relentlessly, one might even say mercilessly, exposes contradictions and inconsistencies in the NT text, considering and eliminating one-by-one all the attempts of conservative theologians to reconcile the irreconcilable. As Albert Schweitzer wrote in "The Quest for the Historical Jesus", Strauss's arguments "filled in the death-certificates of a whole series of explanations which, at first sight, have all the air of being alive, but are not really so."
Thus most of the book is still relevant, because it explodes harmonizing explanations that are still found today in popular Christian literature. However, there can be no doubt that Strauss is too single-minded in his desire to reduce everything in the NT to myth.
The book shows its age; for example, Strauss is of the opinion that Mark is little more than an abridgment of Matthew and Luke, although it is widely held today that Mark in fact has precedence.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Paul Trejo on June 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Albert Schweitzer said that there are two broad epochs of Bible Study - the period before David Strauss and the period after David Strauss. Strauss belongs to the 18th and 19th century German Protestant rationalist theological movement that tried to explain all the miracles of the Bible 'rationally'. The movement begins about 1776 with H. Reimarus and continues with J. Herder, K. Barhrdt, K. Venturini, H. Paulus, GWF Hegel and F. Schleiermacher. However, it is not ordinarily noted, but Hegel and Schleiermacher were in disagreement on just about everything, and David Strauss as a student of Schleiermacher, not Hegel.
Strauss' troubles began when he crossed the line and used Hegel's name. Hegel was the most famous philosopher of the day, and Strauss decided to drop his name in the marketing of his book. Wrong move. Hegelians, led by Bruno Bauer, hotly contested Strauss' claims to use their mentors name. In his follow-up to this book, IN DEFENSE OF MY LIFE OF JESUS AGAINST THE HEGELIANS (1838), Strauss contradicted himself -- he admitted that Hegel himself would not recognize his writing as representative of Hegel's theology. Ultimately, Strauss ended up alone.
Strauss was the world's first 'demythologizer' and that is saying a great since most 20th century theology centers around demythologization -- even late Catholic theology.
But let's set the record straight -- Strauss was hardly influenced by Hegel at all -- his real strength came from Schleiermacher. (Schleiermacher had his own method of triads.) Strauss tried to capitalize on Hegel's popularity and in fact this worked -- Strauss' book became a best-seller in 1835 and Strauss lived on the royalties for the rest of his life. However, he never wrote a best-seller after this one.
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