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The Life of Jesus Critically Examined



As this new edition of my critical examination of the life of Jesus appears simultaneously with the first volume of my Dogmatik, it will not be expected to contain any essential alterations. Indeed, even in the absence of other labours, I should scarcely have been inclined to undertake such on this present occasion. The critical researches prompted by the appearance of my work have, after the stormy reaction of the first few years, at length entered on that quiet course, which promises the most valuable assistance towards the confirmation and more precise determination of the negative results at which I have arrived. But these fruits still require some years for their maturing; and it must therefore be deferred to a future opportunity to enrich this work by the use of them. I could not persuade myself to do so, at least in the present instance, by prosecuting a polemic against opposite opinions. Already in the last edition there was more of a polemical character than accorded with the unity and calmness proper to such a work; hence I was in this respect admonished rather to abridge than to amplify. But that edition also contained too much of compliance. The intermingling voices of opponents, critics, and fellow-labourers, to which I held it a duty attentively to listen, had confused the idea of the work in my mind; in the diligent comparison of divergent opinions I had lost sight of the subject itself. Hence on coming with a more collected mind to this last revision, I found alterations at which I could not but wonder, and by which I had evidently done myself injustice. In all these passages the earlier readings are now restored, and thus my labour in this new edition has chiefly consisted in whetting, as it were, my good sword, to free it from the notches made in it rather by my own grinding, than by the blows of my enemies.


Stuttgard, 17th October, 1840.

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Kirby, Peter. "Historical Jesus Theories." Early Christian Writings. <>.