Savonarola And Jesus: A Comparison And Its Suggestions -- By: John Wright Buckham

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:228 (Oct 1900)
Article: Savonarola And Jesus: A Comparison And Its Suggestions
Author: John Wright Buckham

Savonarola And Jesus:
A Comparison And Its Suggestions

Rev. John Wright Buckham

It would not, I think, be difficult to secure the assent of all who are acquainted with history to the assertion that there have been few men, if any, better fitted to serve as a touchstone by which to test the life of Jesus than the great Florentine preacher and martyr whose character and work have so fascinated the world,—Girolamo Savonarola.1 “No one in history,” says Emilio Castelar, “personifies and represents with better right that new birth of the religious spirit presented in the gospel of Christ.”2 “His absolutely blameless moral character,” says Dean Milman, “his wonderful abilities, his command of all the knowledge of his time, his power of communicating his own holiness to others, even his rigid authority as regards the great doctrines of his church, who will impeach?”3

There is much in the histories of the two to suggest comparison. Both were teachers; both, reformers; both for a time won support and commanded popular approval, but ultimately lost it; both died a violent death at the hands of those whom they were trying to save. The similarity of character and aim is still more marked than that of outward circumstance. There was a certain elevation of

spirit in Savonarola, an intensity and devotedness of aim, a colossal moral force, which has characterized few men in the same degree. He is one of the highest peaks in the mountain ranges of humanity. Around him, during his life, the storms of moral conflict gathered and raged, as they did around Jesus; and upon him, as upon Jesus, fell the clear sunlight of subsequent approbation,—both storm and sunshine proving exaltation of aim and greatness of character.

It will be necessary, for the purpose in view, to assume acquaintance, if not familiarity, on the part of the reader, with the facts of the life of Savonarola. Even thus we can touch, within the compass of this article, only the leading points of resemblance and contrast between the monk of Florence and the man of Nazareth.


In both lives there was ample time for preparation before the hour of public committal and action. This time was, however, spent by them in very different employments and amid contrasted surroundings. The home of Savonarola was one of wealth and culture; that of Jesus, one of comparative poverty. In the early years of Jesus there was a contact with toil, with the common tasks and realities of humble life, which Savonarola did not ...

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