Book Series Judaïsme ancien et origines du christianisme, vol. 28

The Many Lives of Jesus

Scholarship, Religion, and the Nineteenth Century Imagination

Cristiana Facchini, Annelies Lannoy (eds)

  • Pages: 300 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60256-1
  • Paperback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60257-8
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A broad comparative approach to the different national and confessional traditions in scholarship on Jesus


Cristiana Facchini teaches History of Christianity and Religious Studies at the University of Bologna. She has been a Fellow of the Max Weber Centre (Erfurt), and has published extensively on religious history, Jewish history of the early and modern period, Jewish-Christian relations, and Christian anti-Semitism.

Annelies Lannoy is Invited Lecturer at Ghent University and Chercheuse FNS Senior at the Université de Lausanne. She conducts research on Franz Cumont and Alfred Loisy, history of religions, and history of Christianity.


This collection of essays aims to offer a multi-disciplinary approach to nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship on Jesus and early Christianity, which illustrates the width and depth of the questions that critical reflections on the historical Jesus raised in and beyond the field of liberal theology. More precisely, it focuses on Jesus scholarship as practiced in various disciplines and fields that engaged with the academic study of religion. On the other hand, this volume aims for a comprehensive, multi-perspectivist historicization of this scholarship, considering the full range of religious, cultural, racial, political, and national dynamics that hosted the many controversies over the historical Jesus.

Divided into five sections, the eleven essays in this book are organized according to guiding themes and a loose chronological structure. The first section revisits the roots of the Forschung in Liberal-Protestant Germany, and especially focuses on the maturation of historical-critical consciousness in the work of Reimarus (and his predecessors), Schleiermacher and Strauss. The second section is concerned with the rise of the “oriental Jesus” against the background of the making of the academic, non-theological study of religion as a scientific discipline. The third section explores how themes related to the historical Jesus and the rise of Christianity were treated among different academic disciplines from the early second half of the nineteenth century onwards. The fourth section explores how the historical Jesus was at the same time further explored by the biblical scholars and theologians who integrated new comparative methods in their research. The fifth section, finally, highlights the cultural-political appropriations that were made of scholarly writings on Jesus, which not rarely constituted the bricks with which radical political movements built their houses.


Introduction (Cristiana Facchini & Annelies Lannoy)

Section 1: Disentangling the Jesus of History from the Christ of Faith
1. Reimarus’ Dangerous Idea: Launching a Historical Research of Christian Origins in the German Enlightenment (Fernando Bermejo-Rubio)
2. Betwixt and Between: Fr. Schleiermacher’s and D. Fr. Strauss’s Contributions to the Paradigm of the ‘Historical Jesus’ in Early Nineteenth Century Theology as Prototypes of Post-Enlightenment Christology and Jesus Research (Eckart David Schmidt)

Section 2: The Historical Jesus between Academic Scholarship and Public Debate
3. ‘One Cannot Be a Good Historian and a Good Controversialist at the Same Time’: The Politics of Historiography in Renan’s Histoire des Origines du Christianisme from Jesus to Paul, 1863-1869 (Robert D. Priest)
4. An Eastern Story: Claude Reignier Conder and the Oriental Jesus (Michael Ledger-Lomas)

Section 3: Jesus at the Crossroads of Disciplines
5. Early Christianity in the Framework of Roman Religion: Georg Wissowa (Elisabeth Begemann & Jörg Rüpke)
6. The Passion as Purim Sacrifice: Jesus and Comparative Religion in the Dialogue between James G. Frazer and Salomon Reinach (Annelies Lannoy)
7. The Sociological Gospel of Shailer Mathews (1863–1941) (C. J. T. Talar)

Section 4: The Comparative Jesus in Liberal Theology
8. ‘Religionizing’ History, or ‘Historicizing’ Religion? Johann G. Droysen’s Hellenismus in Wilhelm Bousset’s Works on Jesus and Early Christianity (Luca Arcari)
9. Danish Contributions to the Life of Jesus Literature (Mogens Müller)

Section 5: Cultural Mythmaking on Jesus
10. Enlisting Religion: Franz Overbeck’s Criticism of the Socialist and Nationalist Mythmaking on Jesus and Early Christianity (Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli)
11. The Historical Jesus at the Battlefield: Scholarship and Politics in Italy, 1900s-1920s (Cristiana Facchini)

Names Index