Product Description

In “The Quest,” Albert Schweitzer reviews all prior work on the question of the “historical Jesus” starting with the late 18th century. He points out how Jesus’ image has changed with the times and with the personal proclivities of the various authors. He takes the position that the life and thinking of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ own convictions, and that Jesus defies any attempt at understanding him by making parallels to the ways of thinking or feeling of modern men. Schweitzer wrote that Jesus and his followers expected the imminent end of the world. He became very focused on the study and cross referencing of the many Biblical verses promising the return of the Son of Man and the exact details of this urgent event, as it was originally believed that it would unfold. He noted that in the gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks of a “tribulation,” with nation rising against nation, false prophets, earthquakes, stars falling from the sky, and the coming of the Son of Man “in the clouds with great power and glory.” Jesus even tells his disciples when all this will happen: “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” (Mark 13:30) The same story is told in the gospel of Matthew, with Jesus promising his rapid return as the Son of Man, and again saying: “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Even St. Paul believed these things, Schweitzer observes (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4), and Schweitzer concludes that Christians of the first century theology literally believed in the imminent fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. Schweitzer writes that the many modern versions of Christianity deliberately ignore the urgency of the message that Jesus proclaimed. Each new generation hopes to be the one to see the world destroyed, another world coming, and the saints governing a new earth. Schweitzer thus concludes that the First Century theology, originating in the lifetimes of those who first followed Jesus, is both incompatible and very different from those beliefs later made official by the Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 325. Schweitzer established his reputation further as a New Testament scholar with other theological studies including The Psychiatric Study of Jesus (1911) and his two studies of the apostle Paul, Paul and his Interpreters, and the more complete The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (1930). This examined the eschatological beliefs of Paul and (through this) the message of the New Testament.