The Struggle for the Image of Jesus
This chapter explores the historical kernel of the primitive Christian reports concerning Jesus does not appear to be more than what Tacitus tells us: namely, that at the time of Tiberius, a prophet had been executed, to whom the sect of the Christians traced their origin. The agitation and execution of Jesus at any rate did not arouse the slightest interest on the part of his contemporaries. The modern Bible criticism, applying the historical methods of an investigation of sources to the books of the Bible, gave a new impulse to the effort to create a likeness of the personality of Jesus. Criticism has again and again tried to restore this image, with the same result formerly produced by the Christianity of other centuries: each of our theologian friends puts his own ideals, his own spirit, into his image of Jesus. The social conditions at the time when Christianity originated are well known.