Frank Zindler

Biographical note Frank R. Zindler has been an Atheist activist since 1959 when he began publicly to defend the teaching of evolution and to criticize religious encroachments upon the public sphere. A professor of biology and geology at SUNY for almost twenty years, he was forced to give up teaching when he joined Madalyn Murray O’Hair in a lawsuit that attempted to remove “In God We Trust” from American currency. A linguist and editor of scientific literature, he is a former member of The Jesus Seminar and the current Jesus Project and is the author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources (2003). Zindler is a veteran … Continue reading

Georges Ory

Georges Antoine Alphonse Ory (1897–1983) was the son of Alphonse Ory, an employee of the French public administration of postal services and telecommunications, and of Marie Guérin. Ory studied in Paris where he received diplomas in liberal studies and political science as well as a license to practice law. From the age of 19 he was active in the Grand Lodge of France (Masons). He would eventually be listed among its dignitaries. In April 1933 he married Suzanne Crozier in Neuilly-sur-Seine. It is not known if they had children. Ory was an active member of the Parti Radical (a centrist party despite its name) which upholds the principles of private property and secularism (anti-clericalism). He was elected Secretary of the … Continue reading

Prosper Alfaric

Born into a farming family in Aveyron, southern France, Prosper Alfaric (1876-1955) grew up Catholic and was ordained priest in 1899. He taught philosophy in the seminaries of Bordeaux and Bayeux, and later dogma in the seminary of Albi. As a academic and cleric Alfaric’s future was bright, but he gradually lost faith on intellectual grounds and was opposed to the anti-modernism of Pope Pius X, finding himself among the left leaning modernists. Alfaric sought out Alfred Loisy, who received him cordially. He abandoned the priesthood in 1909, resumed the study of history and especially the history of religions. Alfaric prepared his doctoral thesis in Germany and finally received it at the Sorbonne. Alfaric continued to study philosophy under Levy-Bruhl, … Continue reading

Charles Guignebert

Charles Guignebert (1867–1939) was born in the Val-de-Marne, into a family of artisans that was not particularly pious. Despite his secular upbringing he became interested in the history of Christianity and studied under Ernest Renan, obtaining a doctorate in the field with a thesis on Tertullian. From 1906 he was a professor of history at the Sorbonne. In 1919 Guignebert assumed the chair of the History of Christianity faculty there, a position he held until 1937. With Alfred Loisy, Guignebert was among the first to adopt a scientific rather than confessional approach to Christian history. “The gospels are texts of propaganda,” he wrote, “calculated to organize and authenticate the legend represented in the sacred drama of the sect by making … Continue reading

Joseph Turmel

Among the great French religious modernists of the twentieth century, Joseph Turmel was a native of Rennes. His family was both very large and very poor, his parents pious and unlettered. However, Joseph’s keen intelligence was noticed early. He entered the large Seminary of Rennes and subsequently studied theology at the University of Angers, was ordained priest in 1882 and immediately appointed professor of dogmatic theology at the Seminary of Rennes. Turmel’s faith was ardent, and he worked hard to defend the Church against the incredulous. However, he himself became subject to doubts with the appearance of Gesenius’ commentary on Isaiah. Despite Turmel’s attempts to convince himself of error, those doubts grew with his continued study of the Pentateuch. On … Continue reading

Alfred Loisy

Alfred Firmin Loisy (1857-1940)       “The believer of the past is above all one who confesses, who frequently confesses—who does so more often even than Catholic morality requires to atone for sinfulness. He is a man who practices intellectual obsequiousness, acknowledging what the Church requires by fiat and accepting all that it teaches him without examination, contesting neither the sense nor the logic of what he believes and considering himself a minion who learns from the Church all that he needs regarding the great subjects touching upon his existence—what he must do in order to be a good person and (above all) what he must accomplish to be a good Christian. His activity is thus ultimately regulated by an exterior authority … Continue reading

Ernest Renan

Historian, philologist, Semitic scholar, and critic, Ernest Renan was considered one of France’s foremost thinkers during the later years of the Second Empire. Born in Brittany, he began studies for the priesthood and became an accomplished Hebraic scholar. Renan’s work on sacred texts, however, presented him with grave doubts concerning the divine inspiration of the Bible and revealed religion in general. In 1845 he gave up his ideas of becoming a priest and devoted himself to the new religion of science. His conviction that the future of the world rested in science is expressed in l’Avenir de la Science (English: The Future of Science), written around 1848 though not published until 1890. Renan never lost his idealism nor abandoned the … Continue reading

The French school of biblical rationalism

Charles-François Dupuis (1742-1809) Constantin-François Volney (1757-1820) * Ernest Renan (1823-1892 Arthur Heulhard (1849-1920) * Alfred Loisy (1857-1940) Salomon Reinach (1858-1932) * Joseph Turmel (1859-1943) Salomon Reinach (1858-1932) Éduard Dujardin (1861-1949) * Charles Guignebert (1867-1939) Daniel Massé (1872- ?) André Ragot (1874-1971) E. Moutier-Rousset (?-?) * Prosper Alfaric (1876-1955) * Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959) * Georges Ory (1897-1983) Guy Fau (?-?) Georges Las Vergnas (1911-?) Charles-François Dupuis (1742-1809) Man of letters, scientist and politician. Born in the Oise region, Dupuis was the son of a school teacher of modest means. His talents were precocious, particularly in geometry, which brought the lad to the attention of the Duc de la Rochefoucauld. Dupuis was granted a scholarship to the college of Harcourt, eventually received a diploma in theology and, in 1766, … Continue reading

The Acts of Mark: Introduction

By René Salm This remarkable text challenges the orthodox understanding of the apostle Mark, and also of Christian origins. Among other curiosities, Mark is a disciple of John the Baptist, and he is a Levite. Though the Greek text has been in the public domain since publication in 1969 (Analecta Bollandiana 87, pp. 346-71), it has yet to be translated into any modern language and languishes in obscurity. Such is the ability of scholarship to shun that which it steadfastly refuses to acknowledge! Nevertheless, this text contains clues to a very different history of Christian origins… What set me on the search for the text of the Acts of Mark, some years ago, was a note by A. De Santos … Continue reading