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The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

David Burns

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199929504
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199315963 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199929504.001.0001

Series: Religion in America

The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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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.

Keywords: biblical criticism; freethinkers; feminists; socialists; anarchists; Jesus; Gilded Age; Progressive Era; reason; peasant

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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The Birth of the Radical Historical Jesus in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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The Militant and Lowly Historical Jesus in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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The Radical Historical Jesus in Action in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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The Clash of Christs in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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The Fireman of Terre Haute in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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Epilogue in The Life and Death of the Radical Historical Jesus

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