Tuesday, 26 August 2014

M. Renán on the Prophets.

ACCORDING to M. Ernest Renan, the Hebrew Prophets were Socialists of the most advanced and terrible type. The Academician has elaborated this theory in the second volume of his " History of the People Israel," which is about to see the light in a short time. This new production from M. Renan's pen begins with the reign of David and concludes with the taking of Samarta in the year 721 B.C.— a date which, according to the Academician, is the only approximately precise one of this period of the World's History. M. Renan has set forth as clearly as possible the history of the Prophets and the evolution of the Judaic religion. He has shown how, before the time of the Prophets, the Hebrew creed was sectarian and local, like other beliefs of the epoch, and how, do the teaching of the Prophets, it became universal with "Jahva" (a just god) as its ideal divinity. In this way the idea of justice, impartiality, and universality entered into religion. The Prophets were social Democrats, who preached liberty, equality, and fraternity, who thundered against the rich oppressors and monopolists, just as do the Socialists of our own day, and who announced that at the end of the world "Jahva the Just" would preside over the equal partition of property. Out of this teaching was evolved Christianity, which, he says, is simply an eclectic summary or selection of the Hebrew religion.  M. Renan proposes to bring his history down to the time of Christ, so that it will form a series of which his "Vie de Jésus" will be the sequel. The work is colossal in its scope, and the philosopher has expressed a presentiment that he may not live to complete it. He has already, however, entered upon a third as well as a second volume of his work.


 5 February 1889,

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