The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer

Cited by many as the cornerstone and the start of the study of the historical Jesus. Alberta Schweitzer (1875-1965) wrote “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” in German in 1906, which was translated into English in 1910.

Summary of the Book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus

As the title says, it is a summary of the modern history of attempts to understand the life and person of Jesus in the context of history. Putting aside the theological lens that he is often described through and sticking to the historical contexts in which Jesus lived.

Starting in the mid-1750 and continuing through countless books and essays written about the life of Jesus till the time of publishing in 1906.

Albert does an amazing job of creating a brief overview of many books written about Jesus’ life along with the main thoughts, problems, solutions and what he considers key thoughts that advance the “Quest for the Historical Jesus.”

In under 400 pages, you get a quick grasp of German thought about the life of Jesus, spanning 150 years. Seeing how their views and thoughts about Jesus changed and developed.

Don’t forget something I am rapidly learning how much German thinkers influenced the world during that time.

My Experience Reading The Quest of the Historical Jesus

In my personal quest to better understand the man Jesus. I have been reading and listening to many different scholars and authors. Who often refer to this classic book as a starting point in their own life or academic development in the study of the Historical Jesus.

A compelling feeling grew that despite what I heard and sometimes disagreed with the Jesus portrait that they drew about Jesus. I felt compelled to go to the source. To hear straight from the horse’s mouth what Albert Schweitzer wrote about Jesus.

I did not expect what I read.

Hightlighted Insight from The Quest of the Historical Jesus
So Many Insights

I thought it would be his argument and explanation of key verses and sources. The classic style of New Testament scholars and Historians. Along the line of the Jesus Seminary.

But for me, this was not what the book was about at all.

Yes, he does discuss sources and work through many key events in the life of Jesus. Working through the jigsaw puzzle of sources in an attempt to paint a comprehensive picture of the life of Jesus.

But more valuable is his perception of the key points of other authors’ books and argumentations. And even more valuable.

What did they contribute to the conversation?

What possibly held them back from advancing even further?

After reading The Quest for the Historical Jesus, the below middle paragraph now resonates with me.

Highlighted Paragraph from The  Quest of the Historical Jesus

You do not need to agree with his portrait of Jesus. You may discard his strong argument to understand Jesus as an eschatological prophet in the context of second-temple Judaism.

Which many scholars do.

Even those that hold him up as inspiration for their own personal quest to better understand the Jesus of history.

But you would be better off knowing this part of the journey that has brought us to our current understanding of Jesus.

True or false, it is our quest.

Ryan Nickel

Two loves of my life beyond my wife and 4 children are history and the person of Jesus. From childhood, I was captivated by history and still love reading and learning about the past. One life in particular that intrigues me in history is the person of Jesus. It's fascinating to think about how the course of human history was changed by a carpenter turned preacher. Both in our times and also in his. I attempt to process all I am learning about him through conversations, writing and shooting videos about the life and teachings of Jesus. With each word drawing me closer into his life. Ryan Nickel has been part of range of churches, including Baptist, Evangelical Free and Church of Christ. In 1999 I graduated from Peace River Bible Institute with a Bachelor of Religious Studies.

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"Discovering the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth."

That is the mission of this website, and we hope that we can help you to experience.

If you spend much time in church, in a library, online or on youtube, you probably heard about Jesus Christ.
Well, so have I.

In my experience, and maybe yours, the emphasis seems to always be on Christ, not Jesus.

What I mean is the God side of the strange blend of God/Man. Or as some refer to as the Post Resurrection Jesus.

This is all great, but what has caught my attention is not the exalted Lord, but the carpenter who lived and died in a distant land, a long time ago.

A carpenter turned preacher who changed the world.