Paris, Librairie de Hachette et Cie, 1863.
Large octavo, viii (last blank), 344 pages.
Contemporary patterned cloth with a contrasting leather title-label on the spine; covers a little rubbed and bumped at the extremities, with the spine sunned and slightly worn at the head; occasional light foxing; overall, an excellent copy, all edges uncut and partially unopened.
Provenance: Richard Davies Hanson, with his armorial bookplate on the pastedown. London-born Sir Richard Davies Hanson (1805-1876), author and judge (eventually Chief Justice of South Australia); he settled there in 1846. He had been very active in colonization schemes since the early 1830s, and had lived and worked for some years in both Canada and New Zealand. In Adelaide in October 1846 he was admitted 'a barrister, solicitor, attorney and proctor' in the Supreme Court, and became heavily involved in law and politics in the colony. 'Despite his "steady flow of carefully measured words, weighted with calm and logical reasoning", Hanson often claimed that he turned to law to please his father but wished he was rid of it, especially its "archaic procedures" such as public executions. A voracious reader in his leisure, he turned readily to science and theology and was moved to share his knowledge. He believed in inevitable human progress and abhorred the mental barriers that hindered it. He saw the Bible as "God's main instrument in the education of the world" only if read with a spirit of inquiry instead of infallible authority. His first public lecture on this theme was to the South Australian Library and Mechanics' Institute in March 1849 and shocked his audience. He emerged again to lecture in 1856 to the East Torrens Institute and in 1857 to the South Australian Institute on the power derived from adult self-instruction. By 1860 he was propounding law in nature in relation to scripture to the Adelaide Philosophical Society. Members of the Bible Society were present and asked him to resign; when he refused, they elected a new president. Hanson moved on to law in creation, rejecting Lamarck as "absurd" but confessing attraction by Charles Darwin's theories, however incomplete. In 1865 his "Law in Nature and other Papers" was published in Adelaide and London; its argument that the Bible should not be exempt from inquiry was highly praised by Bishop Colenso, whose sermons on the Pentateuch had greatly influenced Hanson' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). 'Hanson applied for leave to visit Britain and sailed in February 1869. In March he published "The Jesus of History" which he had started to write in 1866 and finished on the voyage. The book was well documented although he lamented his inability to read German sources except in translation. Working from the first three gospels, especially Matthew, he succeeded in "fusing the evangelical narratives into a clear and consistent whole", rejecting the romance of Renan and the miracles but judicially interpreting the record "as an inquirer before the fall of Jerusalem". The "trained sifter of evidence and weigher of probabilities" was neither orthodox nor rationalist and reached his conclusions only after years of struggle.' This volume on the first three Gospels, from his personal library, presumably formed part of the solution to the problem.