Translation: H.L. Mencken
As to whether he himself
was conscious of this contradiction--whether, in fact, this was the only contradiction he was cognizant of--that is quite another question. Here, for the first time, I touch upon the problem
of the psychology of the Saviour.--I confess, to begin with, that there are very few book
s which offer me harder reading than the Gospels. My difficulties are quite different from those which enabled the learned curiosity of the German
mind to achieve one of its most unforgettable triumphs. It is a long while since I, like all other young scholars, enjoyed with all the sapient laboriousness of a fastidious philologist the work of the incomparable Strauss.5At that time I was twenty years old: now I am too serious for that sort of thing. What do I care for the contradictions of "tradition"? How can any one call pious legends "traditions"? The histories of saints present the most dubious variety of literature in existence; to examine them by the scientific method, in the entire absence of corroborative documents, seems to me to condemn the whole inquiry from the start--it is simply learned idling.