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Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millennium Paperback – October 1, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Honest to Jesus is far and away the best book about the goals and work of the contemporary Historical Jesus movement. Robert W. Funk is director of the Westar Institute, which sponsors an annual Jesus seminar in which scholars attempt to establish which events recorded in the gospels actually happened and which did not. In Honest to Jesus, Funk describes these scholars' professional methodologies and personal goals, and summarizes their surprising findings. His prose is clear, his passion is bracing, and his conclusions are challenging. Funk's Jesus, in the end, emerges as a revolutionary figure for a new age, without being the least bit New Age-y.

From Publishers Weekly

In his 1963 book, Honest to God, Bishop John A.T. Robinson questioned the ways in which the traditional Christian doctrine of God could address the concerns of a church and culture that, Robinson said, had largely left the traditional doctrine behind. How could Christians, in his words, be "honest to God?" Now, Robert Funk, the provocative founder of the Jesus Seminar, asks a similar question about the ways in which late-20th century Christianity can be honest to Jesus in the light of work by the Jesus Seminar and other critics that argues that the traditional portait of Jesus as a supernatural miracle worker is neither supported by the Gospels nor meaningful to a contemporary technological society. Funk's Jesus is a person who "caught a glimpse of what the world is really like when you look at it with God's eyes and who endeavored to pass that glimpse along in disturbing short stories we call parables." But, the Gospels often conceal Funk's Jesus, so that he concludes that "the New Testament conceals the real Jesus as frequently as it reveals him." Funk proposes 21 theses, among them setting Jesus free from the "scriptural and creedal and experiential prisons in which we have entombed him"; abandoning the doctrine of the atonement based upon the blood sacrifice of Jesus; and "declaring that the New Testament is a highly uneven and biased record of various early attempts to invent Christianity." With this last declaration, Funk, exhibiting a self-assurance that often borders on self-righteousness, advocates revising the canon of scripture by which the Christian church has measured itself for the past 2000 years.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; Softcover Ed edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060627581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060627584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
HONEST TO JESUS is a book about a topic that may be among the more important ideas of the early 21st century. It heralds a new chapter in the long, often obscure quest to verify the intellectual and moral integrity of the Christian religion.
In recent decades millions have sat quietly in church pews across the Western world with a growing realization that many of the doctrines to which they have been told to ascribe are at best suspect, at worst morally bankrupt. This consternation has been a key contributor to a dramatic decline in church attendance. For a growing minority, Christianity is no longer relevant at all. More often than not westerners hold a world view superficially anchored in the mythology of pop culture, which often promotes a steadfast denial of organized religion. 'God is dead' has been a cry often heard in the past one hundred years, a response to scientific advances on all fronts which systematically explode traditional Christian mythology.
HONEST TO JESUS covers a religiously charged topic with intellectual detachment, that is until Funk introduces his central idea. Easter and the apocalypse, he argues, have little, if anything to do with Jesus. They are, rather, merely what organized religion has encased him in, principally for the sake of power and popular appeal.
According to Funk the first thing Jesus had to say was a word against religion. Religion, Jesus must have declared, is defined by one's relationship to one's neighbor. Jesus of Nazareth led a life you could emulate if you cared to, but, unlike organized religion, there are inherently no rules to follow in so doing. For Jesus, Funk observes, 'God's domain' is already with us. It is not a place we go to after we die, but a frame of mind built in the context of selfless love.
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Format: Paperback
The Jesus Seminar of Robert Funk has been and hopefully will continue to be a contentious project. But while it is far from invulnerable to criticism, it is certainly unharmed by the comments of "a reader from Monroe, Michigan," below. Our critic makes several criticisms of varying clarity. The charge that, in a world of precarious or crumbling moral foundations, Funk and the Jesus Seminar have proceeded to salvage, within the limits of scholarship, the purely historical figure of Jesus heedless of the consequences to "our world," is basically true-- which is why the project is so significant. The new Scholars Version of the Gospels, and Funk's system of color grading the authenticity of words and deeds attributed to Jesus is not under the yoke of any religious organization or authority. To call the scholars involved "sanctimonious" is not only unwittingly ironic, considering that the obvious accusation would be "blasphemous" or "heretical," it is simply untrue. Their style of writing and presenting findings is usually quite restrained. As for the much mocked system of voting with beads, the method is as old as democracy itself and reflects the Seminar's commitment to representing the views of a large group scholars in a final result, though of course the Seminar Fellows' own books reflect their own views. (The statement that the Fellows "reject every word written in red" makes no sense, unless the critic is referring to previous red letter editions of the Gospels, in which case it is still confusing exaggeration, since they in fact reject exactly 82% of the words usually written in red.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Honest to Jesus is a no nonsense book that will delight the serious reader and quester for the historical Jesus. Out with mythology, out with theology, out with canonical boundaries. The There will be none of these in Funk's historical journey back to Nazareth to recover the identity of the real Yeshua.
Bob Funk, biblical scholar and founder of the Westar Institute which sponsors the Jesus Seminar project, has written a book that gives the layperson an inside look at what critical scholarship has unveiled thus far about the man we today know as Jesus. Funk avers that the Jesus whom Christianity has appropriated as its founder, god, messiah, savior, redeemer, miracle worker, etc. is hardly a good picture of the man who lived almost two millennia ago. The Christian Jesus/Christ is larger than life, a theologized and mythologized version. Funk asserts that the Apostle's Creed glaringly points to the importance the Church has placed on the life of Jesus--there is no mention of his life at all apart from his virgin birth, death and resurrection. The Creed turned Jesus into a god-man.
Funk's quest is to find the Jesus before all the layers of mythology and theology were piled on top of him. The quest for the historical Jesus is to determine what Jesus really said and did, what his vision of God was, what Jesus was trying to direct our attention to. Ultimately Christianity is not about Christ or Jesus but about God....
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Format: Paperback
In HONEST TO JESUS Robert Funk describes the methods used by biblical scholars in their quest of the historical Jesus. He shows how the Jesus Christ of the Nicean Creed of the fourth century can be traced back to the humble Jewish sage of Nazareth and then retraced on a return trip to Nicea where he is resurrected after three centuries of promotion by his gentile admirers to full divinity as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Funk also uses a good part of the book attempting to describe the historical Jesus using what the author considers to be the likely authentic words and deeds of the real Jesus.
Funk believes that public knowledge about the ancient gospels is woefully inadequate. Mainline churches do not address the questions people in the pews are asking about Jesus. Biblical scholars may know many of the answers to these questions but the scholars are only talking to each other. The aim of the quest of the historical Jesus is to liberate Jesus from this prison and especially from the captivity of the church creeds.
Christianity took its conclusive shape with the formation of church creeds and canons at church councils held in the fourth century C.E. Progress in this area was aided by the support and guidance of Roman Emperor Constantine.
World dominance of Christianity is at an end, according to Funk. It is not, however, the end of Christianity but actually a great opportunity to begin anew. Our understanding of the origins of the Christian religion is constantly changing. Funk believes a new perception of Jesus is possible if we place him back in his modest beginnings in Nazareth.
We have forgotten many things about Jesus that must have been obvious to his contenporaries, according to the author. For instance, Jesus was a social deviant who practiced an open table. He also criticized public displays of piety and certainly did not support the use of brokers in one's relationship to God.
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