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The History of the Jews was that of a Nation, the History of Christianity is that of a Religion. Yet, as the Jewish Annals might be considered in their relation to the general history of man, to the rank which the nation bore among the various families of the human race, and the influence which it exercised on the civilisation of mankind : so Christianity may be viewed either in a strictly religious, or rather in a temporal, social, and political light. In the former case the writer will dwell almost exclusively on the religious doctrines, and will bear continual reference to the new relation established between man and the Supreme Being : the predominant character will be that of the Theologian. In the latter, although he may not altogether decline the examination of the religious doctrines, their development and their variations, his leading object will be to trace the effect of Christianity on the individual and social happiness of man, its influence on the Polity, the Laws and Institutions, the opinions, the manners, even on the Arts and the Literature of the Christian world : he will write rather as an Historian than a religious Instructor. Though, in fact, a candid and dispassionate survey of the connection of Christianity with the temporal happiness, and with the intellectual and social advancement of mankind, even to the religious inquirer, cannot but be of high importance and interest; while with the general mass, at least of the reading and intelligent part of the community, nothing tends so powerfully to the strengthening or weakening of religious impression and sentiment, nothing acts so extensively, even though perhaps indirectly, on the formation of religious opinions, and on the speculative or practical belief or rejection of Christianity, as the notions we entertain of its influence on the history of man, and its relation to human happiness and social improvement. This latter is the express design of the
present work, of which the plan and scope will be more fully explained at the close of the Introductory Chapter.
If at any time I entertained doubts as to the expediency of including an historical view of the Life of the Saviour in the history of his religion, those doubts have been set at rest by the appearance of the recent work of Strauss. Though, for reasons stated in a separate Appendix to this work, I have no hesitation in declaring my conviction that the theory of Strauss is an historical impossibility, yet the extraordinary sensation which this book has produced in the most learned and intellectually active lich nation of Europe, gives it an undeniable importance. Though, till recently, only accessible to the small, yet rapidly increasing, bez number of students of German literature in this country, and, from its enormous length and manner of composition, not likely to be translated into English, it has, however, already appeared in a French translation (1). After reading with much attention the work of Strauss, I turned back to my own brief and rapid brica outline, which had been finished some time before, and found
Chou what appeared to me a complete, though of course undesigned, refutation of his hypothesis. In my view, the Life of Christ (independent of its supernatural or religious character) offers a clear, genuine, and purely historical narrative, connected, by numberless fine, and obviously inartificial links, with the history of the times, full of local and temporary allusions, perfectly unpremeditated, yet of surprising accuracy, to all the events, characters, opinions, sentiments, usages, to the whole life, as it were, of that peculiar period; altogether, therefore, repudiating that mythic character which Strauss has endeavoured to trace throughout the Evangelic narrative. In all its essential character it is true and unadulterated History (2).
In this, however, as in all respects, I have been anxious and studious not to give my work a controversial tone. My “ Life of
raphy falar the
(1). The only good view of Strauss's work with matériel, appartiennent à cette nation même, et which I am acquainted, in a language accessible où chaque ligne exige, pour être comprise, la to the ordinary reader, is an article in the Revue connaissance rigoureuse de son histoire, de ses des Deux Mondes, by M. E. Quinet.
lois, et de ses moeurs anciennes, des localités, (2) I agree on this point with the author of a préjugés, du langage, des opinions populaires, work which appeared last year in Paris, M. Sal. des sectes, du gouvernement, et des diverses vador. He is speaking of the Evangelic History, classes de Juifs existant aux époques où les pré. - une cuvre enfin dans laquelle le lieu de la nements sont rapportés. -- Jésus-Christ; sa Doc. scène, le héros, les figures accessoires, tout le trine, etc. tom. i. p. 159.
et Christ” remains exactly as it was originally written; excepting
in one or two notes. I have reserved entirely my reference to the my work of Strauss for a separate Appendix. In these animadversions, Hi and in some scattered observations which I have here and there Ti ventured to make in my notes, on foreign, chiefly German, wri
ters, I shall not be accused of that narrow jealousy, and, in my at opinion, unworthy and timid suspicion, with which the writers
of that country are proscribed by many. I am under too much
obligation to their profound research and philosophical tone of I thought, not openly to express my gratitude to such works of
German writers as I have been able to obtain, which have had any bearing on the subject of my inquiries.
I could wish most unfeignedly that our modern literature were so rich in writings displaying the same unwearied industry, the same universal command of the literature of all ages and all countries, the same boldness, sagacity, and impartiality in historical criticism, as to enable us to dispense with such assistance. Though, in truth, with more or less of these high qualifications, German literature unites religious views of every shade and character, from the Christliche Mystik of Goerres, which would bring back the faith of Europe to the Golden Legend and the Hagiography of what we still venture to call the dark ages, down, in regular series, to Strauss, or, if there be any thing below Strauss, in the descending scale of Christian belief.
On all other points, especially those which are at present agitated in this country, though of course I cannot be, yet I have written as if in total ignorance of the existence of such discussions. I have delivered, without fear, and without partiality, what I have conscientiously believed to be the truth. I write for the general reader, rather than for the members of my own profession ; as I cannot understand-why such subjects of universal interest should be secluded as the peculiar objects of study to one class or order alone.
In one respect, the present possesses an advantage, in which the former work of the Author, from its size and form, was unavoidably deficient,—the greater copiousness of confirmatory and
illustrative quotation. I trust that I have avoided the opposite error of encumbering and overloading either my text or my notes with the conflicting opinions of former writers. Nothing is more easy than this prodigal accumulation of authorities; it would have been a very light task to have swelled the notes to twice the size of the volumes. The Author's notion of history is, that it should give the results, not the process of inquiry; and, however difficult this may be, during the period of which he now writes, where the authenticity of almost every document is questioned, and every minute point is a controversy, he has with his utmost diligence investigated, and with scrupulous fidelity repeated, what appeared to him to be the truth. Once or twice only, where the authorities are so nicely balanced, that it is almost impossible to form a satisfactory conclusion, he has admitted the conflicting arguments into the Text; and he has always cautiously avoided to deliver that, which is extremely problematical, as historical certainty. Where he has deviated from his ordinary practice of citing few rather than many names in his notes, it is on certain subjects, chiefly Oriental, on which the opinions of well-known scholars possess, in themselves, weight and authority.
If he should be blest with life and leisure, the Author cannot but look forward to the continuation of this History with increasing interest, as it approaches the period of the re-creation of European society under the influence of Christianity. As Christian History, surveyed in a wise and candid spirit, cannot but be a useful school for the promotion of Christian faith; so no study can tend more directly to, or more imperatively enforce on all unprejudiced and dispassionate minds, mutual forbearance, enlightened toleration, and the greatest even of Christian virtues, Christian charity.
INTRODUCTION. - STATE AND VARIOUS FORM OF PAGAN RELIGION AND OF
7 Philosophy fatal to popular Reli-
God under the old and new Reli- Irnmortality of the Soul..
LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST.-STATE OF JUDÆA.-THE BELIEF IN THE MESSIAH.
ib. Foreign Connections of the Jews.