The Greatest Men in History

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To millions of persons,
Jesus is more than a man.
But a historian must disregard this fact.
He must adhere to the evidence
that would pass unchallenged if his book
were to be read in every nation under the sun.

Yet more than 1900 years later a historian
like myself who doesn’t even call himself a Christian
finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life
and character of this most significant man.

We sense the magnetism that induced men who had
seen him only once to leave their business and follow him.
He filled them with love and courage.
Weak and ailing people were heartened by his presence.
He spoke with a knowledge and authority
that baffled the wise.

But other teachers have done all this.
These talents alone would not have given him
the permanent place of power by virtue of the new
and profound ideas which he released.

His is one of the most revolutionary doctrines that
has ever been 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 . . .

The historian’s test of an individual’s greatness is,
“Did he start men to think along fresh lines
with a vigor that persisted after him?”

By this test, Jesus stands first.

–H. G. Wells
Three Greatest Men in History