Will and Ariel Durant

The Christian evidence for Christ begins with the letters ascribed to Saint Paul. Some of these are of uncertain authorship; several, antedating A.D. 64, are almost universally accounted as substantially genuine. No one has questioned the existence of Paul, or his repeated meetings with Peter, James, and John; and Paul enviously admits that these men had known Christ in his flesh. The accepted epistles frequently refer to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion…. The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries the Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthies, for example Hammurabi, David, Socrates would fade into legend. Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed: the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus’ arrest, Peter’s denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature of the history of Western man.

Will Durant, from Caesar and Christ, Volume III, Story of Civilization





American historians Will and Ariel Durant wrote over forty years (1935-1975) the eleven volume Story of Civilization.  In limpid prose they told the story of the civilizations of man up through the time of Napoleon.  The volumes have a prized place in my library.  The volumes have fallen out of favor as contemporary history too often is barely literate politicized junk.  As I hope for better times, I enjoy re-reading these volumes.


Some kind soul has placed audio selections from this magnificent work on You Tube.  I will post them from time to time.  Here is Why Rome Fell.  Enjoy!


Published in: on August 26, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Will and Ariel Durant  
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