Filling in the Gaps | The Cambridge Quarterly | Oxford Academic
Writers sought to help their readers work through the implications of higher biblical criticism, the lives of Jesus, and modem theology by demonstrating that the major themes of the Bible remained relevant whether they came wrapped in a historical or fictional narrative , Thus, in order to convey their versions of Christianity to a new generation influenced by theological modernism, authors sought to rewrite the life of Jesus as a work of fiction. Given the enormous amount of biblical fiction produced between and , Stevens limits herself to examining British novels and short stories In chapter one she lays out the familiar story of the way higher criticism and new scientific theories changed the way the Bible was seen during the nineteenth century.
Increasingly, some believers sought to mediate between higher criticism and a rigid conception of Biblical inerrancy by reading the Bible as literature. Chapters two and three examine the role of biblical biography and fiction in spreading modernist theology to the masses. Chapter two explores the "Lives of Jesus" phenomenon and the efforts of British authors to create English-language responses to Renan's Life of Jesus. Chapter three examines the efforts of Samuel Butler, Edwin A. An unknown error has occurred.
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Nothing daunted, British Victorian writers produced an endless number of further reconstructions, lives of Jesus that proved popular both at home and abroad. The intersection of religion and literature can be a daunting topic. Stevens handles its unwieldy scope by structuring her argument closely around the emergence—or, given his elusiveness, non-emergence—of the historical Jesus in the mid-nineteenth century.
This approach nicely circumvents a number of related theological controversies. With it, Stevens can testify to the dissemination of modern Biblical criticism and its immense importance for Victorian culture.
Stevens does a wonderful job of exposing the messy, non-linear aspects of religious culture. The Victorian era popularizes the conclusions of modern Biblical criticism, but never as a cumulative succession of universally embraced discoveries—nor even as a negative accumulation of discredited ones. Farrar, J.
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Seeley, and others. Stevens might have been clearer about her principles of selection and organization, however.
The historical Jesus and the literary imagination, 1860-1920, Jennifer Stevens
Perhaps Jacobs and Moore receive more space than Eliot because they directly rewrite the character of Jesus. Mallock, or Mary Augusta Ward. Access options available:.