During Renan’s lifetime, Life of Jesus achieved considerable notoriety. It
examined the life of Christ purely historically, following the trends of 19th century
German higher criticism. Renan was wary of accepting the historicity of any supernatural
elements in the New Testament, and his skeptical reading of the Gospels led him to deny
the divinity of Christ. Since its publication, Life of Jesus has powerfully shaped
the fields of modern biblical criticism and Christology. It has inspired many supplements,
replies, and rebuttals, including Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus.