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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Life of Jesus

By Ernest Renan

(French philosopher and historian, 1823–1892)
 
THE CHOSEN flock presented in fact a very mixed character, and one likely to astonish rigorous moralists. It counted in its fold men with whom a Jew, respecting himself, would not have associated. Perhaps Jesus found in this society, unrestrained by ordinary rules, more mind and heart than in a pedantic and formal middle class, proud of its apparent morality.… He appreciated conditions of soul only in proportion to the love mingled therein. Women with tearful hearts, and disposed through their sins to feelings of humanity, were nearer to his kingdom than ordinary natures, who often have little merit in not having fallen. We may conceive on the other hand that these tender souls, finding in their conversion to the sect an easy means of restoration, would passionately attach themselves to Him. Far from seeking to soothe the murmurs stirred up by his disdain for the social susceptibilities of the time, He seemed to take pleasure in exciting them. Never did anyone avow more loftily this contempt for the “world,” which is the essential condition of great things and great originality. He pardoned a rich man, but only when the rich man, in consequence of some prejudice, was disliked by society. He greatly preferred men of equivocal life and of small consideration in the eyes of the orthodox leaders. “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him.” We can understand how galling the reproach of not having followed the good example set by prostitutes must have been to men making a profession of seriousness and rigid morality.  1
 
 
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