The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus by David Burns
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Overview: This book contends that the influence of biblical criticism in America was more widespread than previously thought. It proves this point by uncovering the hidden history of the radical historical Jesus, a construct created and sustained by freethinkers, feminists, socialists, and anarchists during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. This exploration provides a new narrative revealing that Cyrenus Osborne Ward, Caroline Bartlett, George Herron, Bouck White, and other radical religionists had an impact on the history of religion in America rivaling that of recognized religious intellectuals such as Shailer Mathews, Charles Briggs, Francis Peabody, and Walter Rauschenbusch. The methods and approaches utilized by radical religionists were different than those employed by elite liberal divines, however, and part of a larger struggle over the relationship between religion and civilization. There were numerous reasons for this conflict, but the primary one was that radicals used Ernest Renan’s The Life of Jesus to create an imaginative brand of biblical criticism that struck a balance between the demands of reason and the doctrines of religion. Thus, while radical religionists like Robert Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Eugene Debs were secular-minded thinkers who sought to purge Christianity of its supernatural dimensions, they believed the religious imagination that enabled modern-day radicals to make common cause with an ancient peasant from Galilee was something wonderful.
Genre: Non-Fiction > Faith, Beliefs & Philosophy