Count Leo Tolstoy was one of the world's greatest novelists (War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and others), yet in the late middle of his life, he gave up novel-writing to pursue a personal journey toward his own spirituality. He was not satisfied with the Russian Orthodox traditions, nor with the attacks by Renan and others from the rationalist camp, on the merits or defects of Christianity. Tolstoy produced four books in his search for the true meaning of Jesus' teachings. Here's how he describes it:
"I found myself in the position of a person who has been given a sack of stinking filth, and after a long hard struggle has found that there really are precious pearls in this sack of filth; he realizes that he is not himself to blame for his aversion to the stinking mud, and not only is he blameless, but also those people who had gathered and saved these pearls along with the mud are worthy of love and respect. But all the same, he doesn't know what he should do with these jewels mixed in with the mud. Up to this time, I found myself in an agonizing position until I became convinced that the pearls hadn't fused with the mud and could be cleaned up....
I sought the answer to the question of life-not of theology or history-and so for me it was utterly unimportant whether Jesus Christ was god or human, and where the holy ghost comes from, and so forth, and that's why it wasn't important or necessary to know when and by whom each Gospel was written and which parable can or can't be linked to Christ. ... At the beginning of my work I still had doubts, and tried unnatural explanations, but the longer I went on, the work and unquestionable truth stood out firmer and clearer. I was like a person gathering broken bits of a statue-at the beginning there still can be doubt about whether this piece is part of a foot or hand, but when the feet come together, then already one knows that the piece isn't likely to belong to the feet-but when, against this, the piece fits with another side piece and all lines of fracture coincide with those of the lower pieces, then indeed there can't be any doubt."
This present publication is a distillation of his research: biblical texts, with Tolstoy's own elegant reconstruction of Jesus' teaching, tied specifically to the lines of the "Lord's Prayer." His conclusion is startling, with five specific commandments to replace the traditional ten commandments. Here is the source of the modern doctrine of non-violence.