Access to the full text of the entire article is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Renan, Ernest (1823–1892) By Sanzo, Joseph Emmanuel

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1361-1
Published: 02/05/2017
Retrieved: 20 April 2024, from


Joseph Ernest Renan was a French rationalist philosopher, orientalist, and historian of religion. He was a professor of Semitics at the Collège de France. Renan is best known for his influential Vie de Jésus (1863), a biography of Jesus written in the tradition of David Strauß’s (1808–1874) Das Leben Jesu (1835–1836). Against his Roman Catholic upbringing, Renan disputed the compatibility of history and theology, questioned the divine inspiration of the Bible, precluded the possibility of miracles, and rejected Jesus’s divinity (and Jewishness). Although Vie de Jésus was immediately criticized for its many unsupported claims and Renan was, as a result, subsequently suspended temporarily from his post at the Collège, the book’s popularity made its publication a watershed in French intellectual history.

content locked



Article DOI



Citing this article:

Sanzo, Joseph Emmanuel. Renan, Ernest (1823–1892). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

Copyright © 2016-2024 Routledge.