This book belongs to a seven-volume series, the first of which, Life of Jesus, is the most
famous (or infamous). The Gospels, the fifth volume, tells the story of the composition of
the Synoptic Gospels. Renan covers such topics as the persecution of Christians during
the Gospels’ composition and various theories concerning the Gospels’ underlying
template. As he explains in the introduction, the composition of the Gospel of John,
unlike the other Gospels, remains almost entirely shrouded in mystery. Renan’s historical
account reflects his background in 19th century German higher criticism of the Bible.