“I am speaking of him [Jesus] as a man …. The historian must treat him as a man just as a painter must paint him as a man. Of course the reader and I live in countries where to millions of persons, Jesus is more than a man. But the historian must disregard that fact. He must adhere to the evidence that would pass unchallenged if his book were to be read in every nation under the sun.
Now it is interesting and significant that a historian … like myself who does not even call himself a Christian finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this most significant man.
Why is the picture centering around Jesus? Why is he deserving of “first place” as history’s greatest individual? That place is his by virtue of the … profound ideas which he released the profound importance of the individual under the Fatherhood of God and the conception of the kingdom of heaven. It is one of the most revolutionary changes of outlook that has ever stirred and changed human thought. No age has even yet understood fully the tremendous challenge it carries. But the world began to be a different world from the day that doctrine was preached and every step toward wider understanding and tolerance and good will is a step in the direction of that universal brotherhood Christ proclaimed.
The historian’s test of an individuals greatness is “What did he leave to grow?” Did he start men to thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him? By this test Jesus stands first.”
- Historian H.G. Wells