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The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics Paperback – November, 1999
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"Miller engages some of the most severe critics of the work of the Seminar . . . in a courteous but trenchant critical debate about the methods and aims of research into the "historical Jesus." Miller's work will challenge the sometimes facile critics of the Jesus Seminar, give its scholarly critics food for thought, and help the general public understand what the fuss is all about." -- Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divinity School
Provocative and controversial ... lays out the significance of the Seminar's work for scholars, for society, and for the church. -- Mark Allen Powell, author of Jesus as Figure in History
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Top Customer Reviews
Fellowship in the Jesus Seminar is open to anyone with an accredited earned doctorate in Religion, Theology, etc. The Seminar has published numerous books, including "The Five Gospels," in which the words attributed to Jesus are printed in (in decreasing order of perceived authenticity) red, pink, grey, or black. Red means the consensus of fellows of the Seminar is that these words are authentically a close English equivalent of what Jesus actually said (in Aramaic or possibly Greek) Black means the consensus of the fellows is that these are not authentic words of Jesus, OR that they are something that most any Jew of Jesus time probably said on occasion; that is, not distinctively of Jesus. Pink and grey are lesser degrees of certainty than red, but more than black.
One common criticism of the four-color schema is that any particular saying either WAS or WASN'T said by Jesus, there can be no in-between. This is, of course, true, but there ARE varying degrees of certainty as to whether particular sayings are authentic. Pink does NOT mean that the saying is, say, 66% authentic (that is an absurdity) but that the fellows, looking at the available evidence from nearly 2000 years ago, averaged to be about 66% convinced that Jesus actually said it (or 34% convinced that the didn't).Read more ›
Add to this the fact that over the past two millennia, a gigantic political, military, social, religious and economic superstructure has grown up around the Bible, using it to accumulate vast power and to justify wide extremes of behavior, from the ruthless to the benevolent. The slightest peep that challenges any part of this superstructure is bound to bring down upon the peeper the wrath of one offended faction or another.
Fortunately for Biblical scholars (and probably for the rest of us, too), most of them work in obscurity. The Jesus Seminar is probably the exception.
I admire the Seminar's goals of establishing what is historically verifiable about the life of Jesus and, as Dr. Miller's writes in "The Jesus Seminar and its Critics," "providing an alternative to the unchallenged fundamentalist assumptions that pervade American discourse about the Bible." What Seminar members are doing is courageous and ultimately helpful. But I was disappointed by this book. I hoped to find an introduction to the Seminar's findings and an overview of the criticism. What I found was a detailed - very, very detailed - look at the Seminar's voting process and Dr. Miller's painfully painstaking responses to some of the Seminar's critics.Read more ›
The project founded by Robert Funk in 1985 known as the Jesus Seminar (JS) is controversial (particularly back in the 90s). To some that may be an understatement. Not only evangelicals and fundamentalists but even such noted critical scholars as Catholic priest (now monsignor) John Meier have criticized and taken potshots at the JS. But why?
Reading Miller and other Fellows of the JS, it seems that what has earned the ire of nonJS scholars and "conservative" Christian groups is not the findings of JS per se, since a good deal of what the JS is making public are matters which critical biblical scholars have known for decades. Rather, what has triggered the avalanche of somtimes very emotionally laden criticisms is the fact that the JS had the gall of making these findings public, and actually making it a policy to maintain close ties with the public. Thus, in an interview with americancatholic[dot]org we hear Fr. Meier deriding the JS:
"Everything [in the US including biblical scholarship] has been turned into televised soap opera. Robert Funk, head of the Jesus Seminar, at one point was planning televised sessions of the Jesus Seminar in which there'd be debates and then scoring; it almost sounds like a hilarious send-up. You can't mock it because it is such a caricature even to begin with!
"But I think one of the great problems is precisely that.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Again, I found this book to be very helpful and enlightening. Without question, my fundamentalist friends and relatives would have been among the critics.Published on October 26, 2013 by G.Simms
The problem with this book is that it claims to be an Apologia Pro Jesus Seminar, but is really an Apologia Contra Jesu. Read morePublished on September 26, 2013 by Clifford J. Stevens
Author Robert J. Miller [who also wrote Born Divine] wrote in the Introduction to this 1999 book, "The Jesus Seminar began its work in 1985, the same year I completed my doctoral... Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by Steven H Propp