The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels: Critical Studies in the Historic Narratives

By Thomas James Thorburn | Go to book overview

PREFACE

IT is but fitting that the writer of this volume should introduce his work, which has gained the Bross Prize for 1915, with an expression of gratitude to the memory of the founder of that bequest, to the present trustees of Lake Forest College, and also to the judges for their courtesy and the trouble involved in dealing with the manuscript submitted for their consideration. He may add, however, that the work was not commenced with a view to competing for the Bross, or indeed any, prize; it had been in hand for about two years, and had already progressed considerably towards taking a final shape, when he bethought him that, perhaps, it might be a suitable book for the purpose which the late William Bross, formerly lieutenant-governor of the State of Illinois, had in view when he established the trust.

The subject of this treatise, "The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels," as it may be termed, is, it should be widely known, nothing more nor less than the theory that our present four canonical Gospels are in no sense whatever what we nowadays mean by the term "historical documents." This is, in truth, a most serious proposition to fling down before the world after close upon nineteen centuries of Christian teaching which has been throughout based upon the contrary affirmation. For, if any such theory be a true one, and can be so established to the satisfaction not only of scholars but to that of the world at large, then the documents referred to must be in effect probably nothing more than a mere congeries of ancient nature-myths, and their Central Figure also can only be an embodiment of one or more

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