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77 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Liberal Look At the Words of Jesus, February 20, 2002
This review is from: The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus (Paperback)
The Jesus Seminar, whether famous or infamous depends on your religious barometer. This is not a book for the conservative Christian who accepts every word written in the gospels, Acts and the Letters to be the actual words of Jesus, written by his Apostles, (which the evangelists were not). If you are an open-minded seeker of truth and are not easily shocked by religious controversy, you will delight in this easily readable unbiased examination of the Words of Jesus and the attempts by the Seminar to pin down what really was said and by whom, 2000 years ago.

The Seminar is a group of liberal biblical scholars, with a historical perspective on Jesus. They, herein vote on the efficacy and accuracy of the recording of Jesus' words. Sentences in RED are those they believe probably came from the lips of the Master, pink, gray and black denote how the vote rated the words attributed to Jesus, only about 20% of which are accepted as most likely his ideas, as he might have spoken them.

The of the rest of the words of Jesus in the four gospels are seen as either created by the evangelists, writing 35 - 87 years after his death as more shedding light on their problems within the infant church of their day, than Jesus' struggles in his. Much of the rest of the material (of the gospels) is not rejected but instead Is subjected to varying degrees of uncertainty as to whether or not they were the original words and intent of Jesus or simply created by writers, redactors and revisionists, from tradition, hearsay, educated guesses by the evangelists on what Jesus might have said in certain situations, and/or insertions of self-serving, propaganda by biased others.

If you enter the reading in a searching mode, ready and open to all ideas on who Jesus was and what he really did say, you will find this book very engaging. I was not at all threatened by the content, but a Catholic Fundamentalist friend was outraged by it. The book is simply an example of scholars doing what they are supposed to do, theorizing on something of which we have precious little unbiased material.
Have fun!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 30, 2011, 5:12:06 PM PST
It's 2011. We have got past the geocentric solar system model. We don't use leeches for medicinal purposes.
If people are sick, we don't put oil on them, we take them to a doctor. And we've updated our view of
the Bible. Why the last example should shock people, and the others don't, is mystifying, but that's America.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011, 8:22:36 PM PST
We stopped using leeches for medicinal purposes for a while. Then we recently started using them again for very specialised purposes, like reducing tissue swelling when other methods fail.

However, this does not detract from the thrust of your comments. People who are inclined to pick up books like this one will not be your closed minded Christians. If the objective is to reach God, it does not really matter if you adopt the bigoted approach, or a philosophical one examinining eclectic views.

Bigots too are entitled to their own views, but if they start attacking bona fide but wider study of scriptures by fellow Christians, then they have opened the door to be rebutted and very robustly too. Nobody has the right to say that their quest to find God is superior to others. Otherwise, we would have religious intolerance within a religion itself, never mind between religions.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2011, 6:25:53 PM PST
W.T.Hoffman says:
I've read the FIVE GOSPELS over and over again, since it came out. The BIBLE is a book of FAITH, but also a literary creation as well. As for which sentences YESHUA BENDAVID said, and which were developed from his followers, I WANT to know what the educated Doctors of Theology think. ARE THEY ALWAYS RIGHT? OF course not, and there was a lot of discention within the group. Personally, I am of the FIRM belief, that many of the statements of JESUS were remembered very well by his followers. Jesus didnt give the SURMON ON THE MOUND once. IT was part of a surmon he gave often. THe parables are the same way. ORAL TRANSMISSION by Jesus followers would be pretty accurate, because they HEARD JESUS SAY the same thing, over and over, for almost 3 years. PLUS, they got the "discipline's Oral Teachings", which were NOT given to the masses. THERE IS A CONSIDERATION, that is not thought about. Altho we talk of what words JESUS SAID, after the Ascension, the disciplines in the UPPER ROOM recieved the gift of the Holy SPirit, which allowed Spiritual Transmission of Ideas via something like Telepathy (check out how everyone knew what the others were saying, tho they spoke in different languages, or how Jesus knew what people were thinking, etc). I would guess, that JOHN is the work of CHRIST transmitting spiritual wisdom to JOHN himself, during deep meditation, etc. THEN, JOHN taught it to others, and then, THAT was written down. (along with many bits and pieces from several sources.) DID JESUS SAY ALL THESE THINGS (eg. in the gospel of JOHN) IN THE FLESH? probibly not. DID CHRIST SAY THEM THRU THE HOLY SPIRIT? I would think so. The thing About religion, we are dealing with Humanity's SPIRITUAL evolution, into a being of LOVING COMPASSION, leaving greed, arrogance, hatred, lies, etc far behind them. AND THIS IS A FORM OF HUMANITY seen where ever true spirituality exists. SO, I look at the JESUS SEMINAR, as a DISCUSSION (not law written in stone), about what JESUS MIGHT HAVE SAID. nothing more. AS FOR WHAT CHRIST WAS DOING to Jesus followers, after he left the earth, thats a whole other question. As for Literalists getting upset over this book, well, I've been reading the CHURCH FATHERS, and from the start, they interpreted the scripture from a LITERAL, a MORAL, and a ANAGOGICAL perspective, which they likened to the BODY (literal), the SOUL (moral), and the SPIRIT (Anagogical). The Literalists would have seemed as off message to the FIRST CHRISTIANS, as they do to spiritually aware christians today. Their lack of TOLERANCE, is just like wanting to STONE the adulterer, or Killing Jesus cos he defiled the Sabbath thru healing on that day. SURE, it was a LITERAL interpretation of the scripture, but it was WRONG. CHRISTIANS follow the LAW OF LOVE first. AND, thats the test. DO the intolerant seem like they follow the LAW OF LOVE? If not, then they are judged by their behavior itself. I pity them, but I'm angry cos they lock the doors of heaven not just for themselves, but for others who look to them for guidence on the SPiritual Path. JESUS only got upset at two types of people 1. the WEALTHY who refuse to help the poor and 2. THOSE who followed the LETTER of the LAW, and not the SPIRIT, ie LOVE. ESPECIALLY when they are CHURCH LEADERS, which he sees as the WORST FORM of hypocracy. (check out MATTHEW for that info.) THE GOSPELS are filled with wisdom. I'm sure that it came from JESUS as an "enlightened" human, and CHRIST as divine light. (and of course the memories and experiences of the PEOPLE influenced by JESUS.) the FIVE GOSPELS is a work of INTELLECT. IT never set out to deny teh spirituality of the NT.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 24, 2011, 9:28:28 PM PDT
S. J. Haye says:
First, I do wish (Mr.? Ms.?) Hoffman would find and use the spellcheck that their computer undoubtedly has. Aside from this, I have also read and consulted the Five Gospels many times, and I find the comments and insights in the review above very valuable, probably because I agree with them. I especially agree that the grading of the supposed words of Jesus should not be taken as gospel (pun intended) but are nonetheless very edifying.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2011, 2:43:02 AM PST
EpicM1nd says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2013, 10:27:22 AM PST
Despite the spelling errors I loved these comments.There is room for everybody in God's house.
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