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The Gospel According to Jesus: A New Translation and Guide to His Essential Teachings for Believers and Unbelievers Paperback – January 1, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060923210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060923211
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By B. L. Cloud on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
First of all, you'll notice as you look at the reviews on Amazon, that the low-star ratings are from Christian fundamentalists. As this is a review of the book, I won't spend too much time explaining why that is, but it seems useful to spend a little time on the topic, since the majority of people are unaware of the history of fundamentalism. There are reasons *why* most Christians nowadays are so adamant about there being only one interpretation Jesus, and it is for the most part a later development in Christianity, though at its deepest root, the Gospel of John and the writings of St. Paul are to blame. The particular fundamentalism you see nowadays, though, was in response to critical study of the Bible that began in the 1800's, when scholars began to apply historical criteria to biblical accounts, and because their conclusions did not line up with what the Church had always taught, Christians rejected their conclusions and went on the defensive. In brief, one source of the fundamentalism you see today is a 12-volume study, The Fundamentals, published 1910-1915. It stressed five fundamentals: the inerrancy of the Bible; the literal nature and historical reality of the Biblical accounts, especially Jesus's miracles and Genesis; the Virgin Birth of Jesus; the bodily resurrection of Jesus; the belief that Jesus's death was the atonement for sin. However, if one studies the history of the Church, many beliefs *about* Jesus were not "set in stone", so to speak, until much later, and early on there were alternative interpretations of Jesus's significance, for example, by the Ebionites (did not believe in Virgin Birth, but believed in atonement via Jesus's crucifixion) and the Gnostic Christians (focused on Jesus's teachings, did not believe in atonement).Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I spent a good 15 years of my life trying to make peace with Christianity. I've struggled to appreciate the avid Christians' ability to embrace the Bible as a literal transcription of God's word. I've struggled to forgive those who applied peer pressure to me as a young teen to "accept Jesus as my personal savior." I've pondered with bewilderment the idea that God would create us with inquisitive, questioning minds but then require us to engage in blind acceptance of Jesus' teachings.

Finally, I was pushed over the edge by an evangelical Christian housemate who wouldn't shut up, and I picked up Mitchell's book in the hope of developing my gentle art of verbal self-defense. What an expected blessing this book has been! I was touched deeply and permanently by Mitchell's focus on forgiveness, and the many ways in which the teachings of Jesus the man are relevant to finding the Kingdom of Heaven within myself every day. Mitchell's book has helped me make peace with Christianity and Christians, and that is no small gift.
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Mitchell does something almost unforgivable in this book by stripping core tenets of the Christian faith from his "translation" of the New Testament. Something strange happens, though: God's truth shines through anyway. The author parses and paraphrases, and leaves out virtually the entire Gospel, but the reader can tell what he's aiming for.
This is not, as I see it, an attempt to rewrite the Gospel or translate the Gospel, but rather an attempt to show particular facets in an enlightening way. The reason the gross omissions are forgivable is that he takes parts of Jesus' teachings and makes them shine far more brightly than before. The parable of the Prodigal Son, in particular, receives the attention that it should. Mitchell might have problems with what he considers the more "mythological" aspects of Christianity, but his writing demonstrates a real understanding of the concepts of grace, forgiveness, and divine providence. Yes, a lot of this is because these are the facets of Christianity that dovetail with his Zen philosophy and training, but this remains the strength of the book.
What every reader should realize about this work, though, is that it cannot be considered a definitive translation of the Gospel. It is neither scholarly nor historical. Rather, it is poetic and interpretive, and the author prefers to present the gist of the text, particularly where a precise translation doesn't translate context or connotations. Obviously, the problem with this is that the author's subjective judgments can and do get in the way.
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Quite a remarkable book. It dares to declare ideas I had intuited but did not pursue out of fear of "lightning bolts". Actually, this makes so much more sense than what we have been taught in traditional religious dogmatic teaching. In fact, it makes Jesus much more "real" for me and his works that much more astonishing. It also supports my observation that the God of the Bible always chooses the least expected, most unlikely, weakest, slowest, etc. to work His will through, thereby glorifying Himself that much more and reminding us that it is not by our might, intelligence and fame that we are successful.
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