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Discussion 1 to Meditation 849
Will Durant on Christ

by: Troy Anderson

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I feel that many things in Bennett's Open Letter are true and I appreciate and accept truth anywhere I find it. I also feels the historian Will Durant tries to take a non bias stand on Christanity. Consequently I feel that the following extract from Mr. Durant's book, Caesar and Christ (The Story of Civilization III), should be considered.

Caesar and Christ by Will Durant. P.557

In summary, it is clear that there are many contradictions between one gospel and another, many dubious statements of history, many suspicious resemblances to the legends told of pagan gods, many incidents apparently designed to prove the fulfillment of Old Testaments prophecies, many passages possibly aimed to establish a historical basis for some later doctrines or ritual of the church. The evangelists shared with Cicero, Sallust, and Tacitus the conception of history as a vehicle for moral ideas. And presumably the conversations and speeches reported in the Gospels were subject to the frailties of illiterate memories, and the errors of emendations of copyists.

All this granted, much remains. The contractions are minutiae, not substance; in essential the synoptic gospels agree remarkable well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies-e.g., Hammurabi, David. Socrates-would fade into legend. Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelist, they recorded many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed- the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the reference of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confession of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outline of the life, character, and teaching of Christ remain reasonable clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man.