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TO THE PRESENT EDITION,
BY PROFESSOR OTTO PFLEIDERER, D.D.
THE Leben Jesu of David Friedrich Strauss, which was published in the year 1835, marked an epoch in the history of theology. On the one hand, this book represents the crisis in theology at which the doubts and critical objections of centuries as to the credibility of the Bible narratives had accumulated in such overwhelming volume as to break through and sweep away all the defences of orthodox apologetics. On the other hand, in the very completeness of the destructive criticism of past tradition lay the germs of a new science of constructive critical inquiry, the work of which was to bring to light the truth of history. It is quite true that the Life of Jesus of 1835 was far from perfect, as judged by the present standard of scientific criticism, and Biblical science has long since advanced beyond it. Nevertheless, it cannot be disputed that it takes rank amongst the standard works which are secure of a permanent place in literature for all time, for the reason that they give final expression to the spirit of their age, and represent typically one of its characteristic tendencies. The liberating and purifying influence which such works exert