Renan, Ernest

Renan, Ernest, Orientalist and Biblical scholar, born in Brittany, son of a sailor, who, dying, left him to the care of his mother and sister, to both of whom he was warmly attached; destined for the Church, he entered the seminary of St. Sulpice, where his studies threw him out of the relation with the Church and obliged him to abandon all thoughts of the clerical profession; accomplished in Hebrew, he was appointed professor of that language in the College of France in 1861, though not installed till 1870, and made a member of the French Academy in 1878; having distinguished himself by his studies in the Semitic languages, and in a succession of essays on various subjects of high literary merit, he in 1863 achieved a European reputation by the publication of his “Vie de Jésus,” the first of a series bearing upon the origin of Christianity and the agencies that contributed to its rise and development; he wrote other works bearing more immediately on modern life and its destiny, but it is in connection with his views of Christ and Christianity that his name will be remembered; he entertained at last an overweening faith in science and scientific experts, and looked to the latter as the elect of the earth for the redemption of humanity (1823-1893).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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