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The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do? Hardcover – April 15, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Seventy-nine scholars worked six years on this new translation of the Gospels in order to "produce in the American reader an experience comparable to that of the first readers--or listeners--of the Gospel." Most attempts to translate the Bible into contemporary English fall flat because they're blatantly agenda-driven or because they rescue the Gospels from limp Victorian prose only to encrust them in awkward contemporary jargon. The Acts of Jesus, by contrast, listens closely to the Greek styles of the Original texts, then renders each distinctive voice in modern English. Consequently, Luke sounds like a good college English professor, but Mark sounds rougher, like street language. The text is color-coded--words in red indicate events that the translators believe to have actually taken place, for instance--and the volume also includes exhaustive commentary and indices by the members of the Jesus Seminar. Only the heartiest of readers will make use of all this auxiliary information. For most of us, the freshness of the language ("You scholars and Pharisees, you impostors! Damn you! You slam the door of Heaven's domain in people's faces.") is the most valuable discovery in The Acts of Jesus. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author

Robert W. Funk is founder of the Jesus Seminar and Director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California. He has been a distinguished leader in biblical scholorship for more than thirty years. A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Senior Scholar, he is the author of a dozen books, including Honest to Jesus and The Five Gospels.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Polebridge Press; 1st edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060629789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060629786
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Dave Kinnear on September 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read several of the Jesus Seminar series now and have many more on the shelf to read as well as books from some of the individual scholars. But what intrigues me about this volume is the cross reference work and foot notes that help me to better understand the context of the what Jesus did and what was done to him.
After reading much of this volume, I can say that I was not disappointed in the thorough and logical way in which the case for the historical acts by and toward Jesus were developed. This book will find a prominent place on my reference shelf for those times when I need a detailed analysis to answer the question, "What would Jesus do?"
A must have for any serious New Testament work.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Ed Brickell on March 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While I can't say I agree with every word Crossan and the other members of The Jesus Seminar have to say, I admire their courage to question the absurdity of a literal interpretation of the Bible in the face of so much hatred and ignorance. This book should be read not as the key to the kingdom, but simply as food for thought -- and after all, it was Jesus who said, "You have heads, use them."
An interesting and different perspective is being offered here -- not necessarily all true, but a launching pad for your own explorations of Jesus and his life, teachings, and works. If you're afraid of thought and of ideas, by all means stay away. The rest of you can buy this book and enjoy the experience of thinking about your Christian faith and the man who inspired it, rather than choosing to live your life wearing self-imposed blinders.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. LaPean (Stagn95@aol.com) on August 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book published by the Jesus Seminar, and edited by Robert Funk is an excellent volume for open minded Christians, scholars and students alike. This volume provides a good basis on which to base any future study of the gospels and other Jesus stories. The Jesus Seminar has done a thorough job of evaluating the sources for the gospels that many Christians read daily in their Bibles. They attempt to use not only the gospels, which have their problems as sources due to the synoptic problem, but they also include and evaluate a composition of Q, the gospel of Thomas, and infancy stories. All of these works have their problems as far as how they portray the historical Jesus, but the Seminar does a fine job of quantifying that for the reader. The one fault of the volume, is the fact that they may over compensate for the reader in an effort to find that same elusive historical Jesus. They tend to use outside source information that may not be deemed reliable such as Josephus who's passages in his Antiquties concerning Jesus sound much more like an early Christian apologist and not the writings of a Jew and a Roman of which he was both. Overall, however, this volume is an excellent work and one that should be applauded in it's intent and scope.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Spears on May 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Historically speaking, translations of the Gospels have obscured rather than elucidated their meaning and style. The 'characters' behind the compositions, their style, is typically lost in translation. The scholars version compiled by the Seminar allows the style and meaning of the original compositions to come through, in modern, unpretentious English, in a way which no other translation has ever done. Mark's grammatically rough Koine Greek comes through true to life, and Luke's superior compositional skills come through with clarity; The Acts of Jesus, like the rest of Funk's works, is set aside by its clarity, insight, and honesty. I would recommend it to anyone who is more interested in who and what Jesus really was rather than what the anonymous gospel writers in the late first century thought of him.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. Buford on January 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This a good book, one of many good books to read on the subject. Like it's companion book -- the Five Gospels what did Jesus really say -- it's an attempt to determine the historical veracity of the New Testament. Understandably, it's an inquiry that would be deemed offputting to the faithful. Interestingly enough, all too few realize that this type of scholarship started some two hundred years ago and was joined early on by no less than Thomas Jefferson himself whose Jefferson Bible (like the books here in question) deny the bonafides of New Testament miracles. Where the Jesus seminar writes their account of the miracles in black (their lowest designation of historical credibility), the Jefferson Bible (formally published after Jefferson's death) simply eliminates them.
For biblical exegis I must say that I prefer the method of Richard Friedman who's recent the Bible With Sources Revealed simply restates the first five books designating for each section the source from which Friedman believes the passage originated. Applying such a method to the New Testament, one could do what the seminar did, but recount each phrase indicating its source (e.g. the hypothetical Q document, Ur Mark and the like). In this fashion, speculation could be made at to the creation of the New Testament by revealing it in its various formative stages. In my humble opinion such an approach would more closely comport with a historical examination of the document.
Be that as it may, the books are fascinating reading and one of many to be considered in better understanding the historical Jesus.
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