The Life of Jesus
by Ernest Renan
To the pure Soul of
my sister Henriette
Who died at Byblus,
on September 24th, 1861.
Dost thou recall, from the bosom of God where thou reposest long days at Ghazir, in which, alone with thee, I wrote these pages, inspired by the places we had visited together? Silent at my
side, thou didst read an copy each sheet as soon as I had written it while the sea, the villages, the ravines, and the mountains were spread at our feet. When the overwhelming light had given place to the
innumerable army of stars, thy shrewd and subtle questions, thy discreet doubts, led me back to the sublime object of our common thoughts, one day thou didst tell me that thou wouldst love this book --
first, because it had been composed with thee, and also because it pleased thee. Though at times thou didst fear for it the narrow judgements of the frivolous, yet wert thou ever persuaded that all truly
religious souls would ultimately take pleasure in it. In the midst of these sweet meditations, the Angel of Death struck us both with his wing: the sleep of fever seized us at the same time -- I awoke alone!…
Thou sleepest now in the land of Adonis, near the holy Byblus and the sacred stream where the women of the ancient mysteries came to mingle their tears. Reveal to me, O good genius, to me whom thou
lovedst, those truths which conquer death, deprive it of terror, and make it almost beloved.
→ original version (in French)
→ The Life of Jesus : contents
• Brother and sister, a memoir and the letters of Ernest and Henriette Renan (1896)