The life of Jesus

by Ernest Renan, a review.

I will start by saying here that I believe that Jesus of Nazareth whose story is given in the gospels did not live. By this I mean, a man whose mother was a virgin, father unknown and performer of miracles, who was killed on a cross and resurrected. This Jesus I have no belief existed. I would end this post here. There are those who have another Jesus, a preacher man. This Jesus is strange and I don’t know how many believers worship this Jesus.

The Jesus of Renan is the second type of Jesus, a man of his age. His Jesus does not perform any miracles, his Jesus was a moral teacher of his time. He bases his history of his hero on the gospel of John which in his view is the most authentic biography of Jesus. Further than that, he sanitizes his hero. To him the story of miracles are the imaginings of the biographer.

His Jesus is a real son of man of low birth but filled with a revolutionary mind. He makes his Jesus a victim of religious intolerance or rather that Jesus meets his death for opposing the old Mosaic or Jewish law. I almost liked his Jesus.

His Jesus, in calling himself a son of god does not imply that he is divine, on the contrary that in the imagination of this hero, he is one with god. He sees no distinction between himself and the god he worships. He, Renan, tells us, Jesus was aware that anyone who believed in god is a son of god. There is no special requirement. To be a son of god is to believe in god.

His Jesus doesn’t see himself as a god. In fact, he doesn’t see himself as a fulfillment of OT prophecy. He is aware of this prophecies and only uses them to his advantage when pushed by his disciples.

He has his Jesus inferior to John and only gets to rise to prominence with the arrest and eventual death of John. To Renan had John not died, Jesus would have remained an obscure rubble-rouser as many a man have been.

The Jesus of Renan is ignorant of Greek philosophy, is limited to a nondescript village where his congregation is composed almost entirely of the credulous of the nation. No learned men of science, of philosophy grace his meetings. Philo does not hear of him. Josephus born in 37 doesn’t mention any Christians.

He believes however that Jesus was the greatest moral teacher. That all of humanity has participated in forming Christianity. That Jesus’ greatest lesson was to teach a spiritual kingdom separate from the secular. A worship of the spirit.

In his view, the bloodshed we have had in the name of Jesus, is but an error of the enthusiasts and the priestly class. He believes a day will come when the true worship as started by Jesus will be resumed.

After reading this book, it is understandable why Renan couldn’t have been popular with the people of the church of his time. He paints a human Jesus on filled with great imagination of his power, who goes to his suicide willingly with a grandiose sense of his power and his mission.

This book is in my estimation a nice read. I enjoyed it.

Chronicles of YHWH 33: Cup of Destiny

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In the Garden of Gethsemane, a terribly worried Yeshua fell to his knees, and pleaded with YHWH. The following conversation ensued:

Yeshua: Father, if it is your will, relieve me of this cup of suffering.

YHWH: Can’t. It is your destiny to drink from that cup.

Yeshua: Make it such that it becomes my destiny to fight that destiny, then.

YHWH: If I did that, you wouldn’t be able to resist the destiny to fight your destiny. And if you thus fought your destiny, my plans for mankind’s redemption would be foiled.

Yeshua: But what if I fought the destiny to fight my destiny by not fighting it?

Short pause.

YHWH: You are starting to irritate me with your word play. Not very wise of you. I’ll make your cup of suffering bigger. I’ll make it into a mug of suffering.

Yeshua: No! Please don’t do that. The cup is fine, dad. Actually, if you could make it even smaller, I’d be ever grateful. Say, a thimbleful of suffering.

YHWH: A thimbleful of suffering is not enough. The minimum amount of suffering you should drink is a cupful. We are trying to wash away the sins of ALL mankind, remember?

Yeshua: But isn’t it all symbolic? The cleansing?

YHWH: It IS symbolic, yes. But even symbolic gestures have to scale in relation to the reality they represent. In this particular case, cleansing the entire human kind requires you to drink at least one cup of suffering.

Yeshua: I think your scale of reference is arbitral.

YHWH: Keep talking like that, and my arbitral scale will arbitrary award you with an entire pot to drink the suffering from.

Short silence.

Yeshua: What if I can’t drink an entire cup of suffering? What if the cup proves to be too much, and I drink, say, half the suffering?

YHWH: Then only the Jews will be cleansed. You’ll have to drink another cup for the gentiles later on. AND ride the donkey once again, into Jerusalem.

Yeshua: Whoa. I’ll drink the entire cup of suffering at a go, then. Didn’t like the donkey ride at all. People started calling me “Ass-Rider” from that day.

YHWH: Wise decision, son. Drink the entire cup at a go.

 

N/B: For access to all anecdotes in this series, check out List of all “Chronicles of YHWH” notes.