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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good analysis, October 1, 2008
This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
I have thought that if a kernel of the Jesus story was true, then it would be found in the parables. This book is a brief overview of the parables, including those from Thomas, with some explanation of why scholars consider some of them to be more likely the genuine product of a sage. There are any revealing facts in this quick read, unburdened by zealous interpretation--exactly what I wanted. This book does not try to explain the parables--that problem is left to the readers as an exercise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholars' Understanding of Parables, January 10, 2014
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This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
If one believes that some of the New Testament material comes from Jesus and a lot of the tradition does not (meaning it is the churches' interpretation (misinterpretation?) of his life and teachings, you will love this one. The parables, according to the scholars, are foundational, bedrock connection with what little we have and know of Jesus. All we basically have has come to us from the church. Some have a high level of trust in what has been passed on, others like me, do not. If you want an opinion that has no ecclesiastical connections and is an honest attempt to sort through the chaff for the wheat, this is it on the parables. I don't know if they have done it with tongue in cheek, but calling it a red letter addition is remembering the old bibles put out that put in red the words of Jesus (I do not recall if they put anything else in red). In the scholars version, much of what would have been red years ago is no longer red. They do this in the limited context of only the recorded parables. They also expand beyond the tried and true foursome of our "canonical" gospels and include all the other gospels (yes, there are many more) and high light in red when it rings true to their studies that "yes, we think this comes from Jesus." This might sound crazy, but it is a beginning for some of us to realize that yes, there is a difference between what he said and did and how he presently is being remembered in Christianity. The life and teachings of Jesus tend to be overshadowed by the death and resurrection the church is preoccupied by. These scholars have moved that shadow out of the way and allowed some really appreciated light to shine on these texts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the voice of Jesus, September 8, 2014
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S. J. Haye "adit" (Ridgecrest, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
I will admit up front that I am not a Christian. However, I try to the best of my ability to be a follower of Jesus ( not Christ). To do this I need to know as accurately as possible what Jesus said and did and what Christians put in his mouth to make him someone he was not. In this regard having the study and research of many New Testament scholars, not just one, is invaluable. I wish other scholars, such as Bart Eherman would back up their opinions as well as the Jesus Seminar does.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics" Before You Read This!!, August 26, 2013
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This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
The Jesus Seminar is a group of scholars who analyze the Gospels of the New Testament (as well as the relatively recent discovery of the Gospel of Thomas in 1945) by applying historical standards. To what degree can anyone be relatively certain that Jesus said something, or said something very like it, when Jesus only spoke orally and none of what he said was written down until long after his life? Why is a portrait of the historical Jesus necessary?

Please read "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics" before you attempt this. Yes, you will find all of the methodology of the Seminar set forth in the beginning of "The Parables of Jesus" but I think you will be frustrated and annoyed without having the broader view of "The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics."
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An academic evaluation of the teaching stories and spiritual concepts of the Gospels, September 12, 2012
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This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
This book is a result of an academic evaluation of what Jesus said in the form parables in the five gospels (including the Gospel of Thomas), and if any scholarly consensus exists about the truth and veracity of these sayings. The King James Version of Bible is based on inferior Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and its translators had little knowledge of ancient Israel. No one has ever compiled a list of words attributed to Jesus following his death. In Jesus seminar, the sayings and parables (A parable is a succinct story that illustrates an instructive principle) attributed to Jesus in the first 300 years were analyzed and compared in terms of history, the culture and traditions that existed at that time. The workbook called "Sayings Parallels" was created in the process and it contained more than a thousand versions of 503 items classified as parables, aphorisms, dialogues, and stories. Looking at the historical development of the four canonical gospels and the apocrypha; it becomes clear that there are many uncertainties in Jesus parables. Jesus was a Galilean peasant who wrote nothing; his native tongue was Aramaic. The records created by other were only in Greek, later translated into Latin, Coptic and other ancient languages. At best, the sayings of Jesus in Aramaic were translated into these languages 35 years after his death (Gospel of Mark and Q manuscripts). The original copies have been completely lost and the oldest fragment of any portion of the New Testament in current existence is probably the Gospel of John dated 125 C.E., and the other three versions of canonical gospels (synoptic gospels) belongs to about 200 C.E. There are about 5,000 Greek manuscripts that contain part or all of the New Testament. No two are exactly alike since they were all copied by hand and usually from dictation. It was not until 1454 C.E., that the identical copies of Bible were reproduced in large scale. In addition to the gospel of Mark, there were three other ancient manuscripts called Q, M and L were used for the creation of the gospels of Mathew and Luke. The M and L documents probably came from oral traditions.

Gospel of Thomas is a sayings gospel with virtually no narrative content. In the gospel of John, Jesus is known to give long aphorisms, unlike synoptic gospels and Thomas, where Jesus speaks parables and aphorisms. In the latter gospels, Jesus espouses the causes of the poor and downtrodden but has little to say about himself. In John, Jesus reflects on his own mission and person and has little to say about the poor and oppressed. Parables attributed to Jesus are also found in other documents apart from the Bible. Some of these overlap with those in the canonical gospels and some are not part of the Bible. The non-canonical Gospel of Thomas contains up to fifteen parables, eleven of which have parallels in the four canonical Gospels. Those unique to Thomas include the Parable of the Assassin and the Parable of the Empty Jar.

Based on the nature of metaphor and its application, oral composition, tight, lean, and compressed style of the text, uncomplicated plots, concrete vivid images, and abstractions of parables, the Jesus seminar evaluated them and expressed their consensus in one of the four categories, either as; Jesus almost certainly said it (red (3 points)) to he did not say it (black (0)), with two intermediate categories, he said something like this (pink (2 points)) or he did not say this but the ideas of this parable is probably his own (grey (1 point)). The votes were counted of all members of Jesus seminar and the final weighted average of all votes decided the color of the parable.

A total of 33 parables were discussed, voted and the results analyzed. The Jesus seminar could come up with only five parables that is in the "red" category; the parable of Leaven (Matthew 13.33b; Luke 13.20b-21; and Thomas 96:1) got the highest vote and deemed most likely said by Jesus. This category also includes the parable of Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30b-35), the parable of Dishonest Steward (Luke 16:1-8a); the parable of Vineyard laborers (Mathew 20: 1-15), and parable of Mustard seed (Thomas 20:2). For each parable, Jesus Seminar gives a commentary as to why this is colored in such a category. Most of these commentaries are very illuminating to read. It is interesting in that the parable Good Samaritan in Luke 10:37-37; Dishonest Seward (Luke 16:8b-9) is voted black; and parable of Leven (Thomas 96:1, Mark 4:31-32, and Luke 13:19) are in the pink category. The seminar states that the wordings in these parables contained in these gospels don't seem to be authentic sayings of Jesus. The Good Samaritan parable according to Luke (10:30b-35) states that a traveler is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man; finally, a Samaritan comes by and helps the injured man. Jesus tells this parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbor" which Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.

The complete black parables are; the Tower builder (Luke 14:28-30); Fishnet (Matthew 13:47-50; and Thomas 8:1); Grain of wheat (Apocrypha of James (ApJas) 6:11b)); Warring King (Luke 14:31-33), and Children in the field (Thomas 21:1-2). Jesus seminar believes that Jesus did not say these parables.

1. The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?
2. The Gospel of Jesus: According to the Jesus Seminar
3. The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus
4. Finding the Historical Jesus: Rules of Evidence (Jesus Seminar Guides Vol 3) (Jesus Seminar Guides)
5. The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant
6. The Birth of Christianity : Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus
7. The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus
8. Sayings Parallels: A Workbook for the Jesus Tradition
9. Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus
10. Q Parallels: Synopsis, Critical Notes & Concordance (Foundations & Facets)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, October 10, 2014
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This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
good book
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of insights, October 2, 2006
This review is from: The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) (Paperback)
I have had this real season of consuming Jesus Seminar books. R W Funk is marvelous in his frank easy-going style when going thru the parables of Jesus.

This report is one of many, which preceded the masterpiece "The five gospels" and which is wholly dedicated to the parables.

The report starts with the organistion and work method of the Jesus Seminar, an overview of the relationship between the gospels and the historic Jesus and his sayings and ends with the beautiful parables coloured according to how close or far they are to the historic Jesus. The more elaborate and theological the parables become, the more further from Jesus they have been written. I found the overview of the gospels very important: it is a very good picture of how far objective non-religious reserach has come. Besdies the four gospels, the gospel of Thomas and Hebrews are included among many others.

I do fancy this objective terretrial look at Jesus and his time, far from the majestic superman of the gospels. A Jesus that thru his parables want to give us humans an insight of what a divine conscience is, of how to be human and a good one and of course: to be a full individual, present today, NOW.

One of the parables that inspired me most what Thomas' about the woman who carried food on her head in a jar, which breaks. She doesn't know and find out when she's arrived at home. Jesus likens the divine conscience (aka kingdom of god) to this whole situation, the whole process and not only to the overflow of food, drinks etc but to this life.
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The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series)
The Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Series) by Robert Walter Funk (Paperback - September 1, 1988)
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