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The Santayana Edition, part of the Institute for American Thought (IAT), produces The Works of George Santayana, an unmodernized, critical edition of George Santayana’s published and unpublished writings. The critical editing process aims to produce texts that accurately represent Santayana’s final intentions regarding his works, and to present all evidence on which editorial decisions have been based. The Works of George Santayana is projected to be 20 volumes consisting of at least 35 books. It is published by The MIT Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England), is supported by the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis, and has been honored with generous supporting grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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    Letters in Limbo ~ May 16, 1932

    bibleTo Mary Potter Bush
    Hotel Bristol
    Rome. May 16, 1932

    The New Testament is a miscellaneous collection of Church tales, the sediment of early Christian tradition. It is not the foundation of any living faith, and never could be. The figure of Christ is just like that of the Virgin Mary, a mythological figure. The dramatic, life-like, and personal notes are just as frequent in St. John as in St. Mark: they are the product of prolonged, intense, cumulative dramatization. The Magnificat is no less genuine than the Sermon on the Mount, which last is evidently not a verbatim report of a real “sermon” but a disjointed collection of maxims, very like those of Hillal and the revolutionary late Jews. All this, however, does not militate in my mind against the existence of a historical Jesus, about whom we know next to nothing. I believe in general in a dualism between facts and the ideas of those facts in human heads: and nothing seems more normal than that a religious Risen Christ should have been identified with an earthly dead Jesus.

    From The Letters of George Santayana:  Book Four, 1928-1932.  Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003.
    Location of manuscript: Butler Library, Columbia University, New York NY


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