The Real and the Sacred: Picturing Jesus in Nineteenth-Century FictionJefferson J. A. Gatrall 2014
The international "quest of the historical Jesus" has been amply documented within the context of nineteenth-century biblical scholarship. Yet there has been no broad-based comparative study devoted to the depiction of Jesus in prose fiction over the same time period. The Real and the Sacred offers a comprehensive survey of this body of fiction, examining both the range of its Christ types and the varying formal means through which these types were represented. The nineteenth century—despite forecasts of God's death at the time—not only revived older Christ types but also witnessed the rise of new ones, including le Christ proletaire, the Mormon Christ, the Buddhist Christ, and the Tolstoyan Christ. Novelists played a crucial role in the invention and popularization of the historical Jesus in particular, one of modernity's major figures.
These pioneering works of fiction, written by authors of diverse religious and national backgrounds, laid the formal groundwork for an enduring fascination with the historical Jesus in later fiction and film, from Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. The book is enhanced by a gallery of illustrations of the historical Jesus as depicted by nineteenth-century artists.