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The Authentic Gospel of Jesus Hardcover – November 6, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st edition (November 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071399567X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713995671
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


With all the weight of a lifetime of scholarship, Vermes places the recorded words in their Jewish, first-century context. -- Independent on Sunday

Wonderfully accessible and open-minded... This book will demand that Christians rethink their faith. -- The Sunday Times, London --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Geza Vermes was born in Hungary in 1924. From 1957 to 1991 he taught in at the Universities of Newcastle and Oxford. Professor Vermes is the author of The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (1997) and The Changing Faces of Jesus (2000). He lives in Oxford. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By call me The Avi on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I recently purchased this book, and found it to be a very interesting read. Geza Vermes is both an erudite and compelling author, and I found his view of Jesus (both as a man and the founder of a world religion) enlightening and thought-provoking. I found it surprising that another reviewer found his work to contain a "hidden academic bias." A look at Mr. Vermes resume' (contained on the first page of the book) clearly shows that he was a professor of Jewish Studies in England for over 30 years, so there's really nothing hidden about it. And, it's his academic background which gives his conclusions such great authority. While some may disagree with those conclusions, Mr. Vermes clearly tells us which texts he used as his sources, and draws no conclusions which he cannot back up using those same texts. He leaves no doubt that his scholarship is solid. He places Jesus firmly in the context of his time, and shows where his message and the later work of his disciples diverged. Nevertheless, his respect for his subject is obvious -- the "Authentic Gospel" follows Mr. Vermes four previous books about Jesus, and his stated purpose here of separating the true words of Jesus from later false additions is an admirable one. As a reader, I didn't agree with all of his conclusions, but Mr. Vermes certainly did his best to raise levels of reasonable doubt, so to speak. Whether one agrees or disagrees with him, the book is enlightening, and will cause you to think more about Jesus, what his message truly is, and how later thinkers may have diluted or misineterpreted it. It's an enjoyable read, and I intend to purchase more of Mr. Vermes books in the future.
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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Etienne ROLLAND-PIEGUE on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many Bibles printed in the US are red letter editions. They have the words of Christ printed in red. Some people believe that these words are more important than the words in black. Others point out that every word in the Bible matters and that although the Epistles in the New Testament do not contain the words Jesus spoke during his earthly ministry, what Paul wrote are still the words of Christ.

Historians approach the issue from a different angle. For them, analyzing the teachings that Jesus left is the only way to portray his true figure. The words of wisdom that Jesus spoke were remembered by his disciples and were passed on until the writing of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The sentences placed on his lips may not have been the exact words that he uttered (Jesus spoke in Aramaic, whereas the Gospels were written in Greek), but they are most likely to reflect the genuine message preached and practiced by him. Upon close scrutiny, it is possible to distinguish the sayings that can be attributed to the historical Jesus and those that may reflect later additions or commentary. The approach here is philological, exegetical and historical as opposed to theological.

The Authentic Gospel of Jesus applies such a method of analysis to those words in red. Every saying attributed to Jesus in the three Synoptic Gospels is given close scrutiny in this book. Geza Vermes divide these statements into nine categories: narratives and commands, controversy stories, words of wisdom, parables, biblical quotations, prayers, son of Man sayings, sayings about the Kingdom of God, and eschatological rules of behavior.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
"The Authentic Gospel of Jesus", by Geza Vermes is certainly not a book for the general reader who just wants to learn about the historical evidence for Jesus and his teachings. However, those who do persist will be rewarded when they get to the final Chapter and the Epilogue, especially by Vermes' though-provoking claims.

Vermes goes to some lengths to choose and validate his source documents. These are primarily the Gospels. However, he disregards the Gospel of St John because it is a much later work than the Gospels of Sts Matthew, Mark and Juke, and was written for a Hellenistic audience. Even among the three other Gospels, he regards that of St Mark as having primacy. The reasons for these choices of sources are well set out and seem to be justified on scholarly grounds.

All the words attributed to Jesus are grouped into nine categories - sayings and commands, controversial claims, proverbs, parables, teachings with quotes from the Old Testament, prayers, Semitic sayings, the Kingdom of God, rules of conduct.

Each saying is interpreted in an historical, primarily Judaic, context and its authenticity is examined so as to winnow out later accretions - of which there have been many. Even once the authentic sayings have been identified, it is futile to claim that the actual words in the Gospels represent his verbatim sayings.

The first 9 chapters of the book are quite scholarly, even pedantic, and this leads to certain obsessions with fine points of theological detail and the minute assembly of sources to justify Vermes' interpretations.

There is a "Reflections" section at the end of each chapter that gives the author's thoughts on the content of the chapter as a whole.
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