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The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus [Paperback]

By Robert W. Funk (Translator), Roy W. Hoover (Translator) & Jesus Seminar
Our Price $ 23.80  
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Item Number 161473  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   576
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 7.5" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 19, 1996
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  006063040X  
EAN  9780060630409  
UPC  099455028004  

Availability  4 units.
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Item Description...
A controversial bestseller argues that only twenty percent of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament were actually spoken by him and is based on a translation of original Greek and Coptic texts of the five gospels, including that of Thomas, discovered in 1945. Reprint.

Publishers Description

Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah?Did he promise to return and usher in a new age?How did Jesus envision the Kingdom of God?

The Five Gospels answers these questions in a bold, dynamic work that will startle traditional readers of the Bible and rekindle interest in it among secular skeptics. In 1985 the Jesus Seminar, comprising a distinguished group of biblical scholars, was founded by Robert W. Funk. They embarked on a new translation and assessment of the gospels, including the recently discovered Gospel of Thomas. In pursuit of the historical Jesus, they used their collective expertise to determine the authenticity of more than fifteen hundred sayings attributed to him. Their remarkable findings appear in this book.

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More About Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover & Jesus Seminar

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert W. Funk is founder of the Jesus Seminar and Director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, California. He has been a distinguished leader in biblical scholorship for more than thirty years. A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Senior Scholar, he is the author of a dozen books, including "Honest to Jesus" and "The Five Gospels."

Robert W. Funk currently resides in Robert. Robert W. Funk has an academic affiliation as follows - Eastern Illinois University.

Robert W. Funk has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Jesus Seminar Guides

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
How Did They Decide What Jesus Did or Didn't Say  Jun 3, 2008
The Seven Pillars - Criteria Used As To Whether He Said It:

1. "Recognizing the distinction between the historical Jesus, to be discovered by historical excavation, and the Christ of faith encapsulated in the first creeds...
2. Recognizing the synoptic gospels as much closer to the historical Jesus than the 4rth gospel...
3. Identification of the hypothetical `Q' source as the explanation for the double tradition - the material Matthew and Luke have in common beyond their dependence on Mark...
4. Liberation of the non-eschatological Jesus of parables - from Schweitzer's eschatological [end of the world is coming] Jesus...
5. Recognition of the fundamental contrast between the oral culture (in which Jesus was at home) and a print culture (like our own)...
6. Assuming that the gospels are narratives in which the memory of Jesus is embellished by mythic elements that express the church's faith in him, and by plausible fictions that enhance the telling of the gospel story for first-century listeners" - a reversal as to who bears the burden of proof.

It was unclear as to whether these were also criteria for Funk's selection of the 72 scholars. Perhaps those who couldn't live with the criteria need not apply. In any event, these were the criteria agreed upon for evaluation of everything attributed to Jesus in the gospels, including the non-canonical Thomas. The four possible votes each delegate had for any given phrase, colloquially, were:

"That's Jesus!
Sure sounds like Jesus,
Well, maybe, or
There's been some mistake."

The final caveat was "Beware of finding a Jesus entirely congenial to you."

I would have no problem with any approach that had at least a modicum of textual analysis and I found the whole muti-year endeavor fascinating. The 38-page introduction is a concise summary of New Testament Biblical Textual Criticism. The translation has the most readable prose I've ever seen in a Bible, with extensive commentary for each possible "Jesus said this" entry - phrase by phrase application of their Pillars. Naturally, if the panel had been chosen with different criteria, the results would have been different. With the exception of literal interpreters or fundamentalists (who might be offended), "The Five Gospels" is an essential and superb addition to anyone's religious library.

The Five Gospels  Apr 7, 2008
As a religion major I found the five gospels to be quite interesting. This book takes the gospels and helps to identify stories and takes story by story to help you understand.
A Question of Faith and Motive  Mar 18, 2008
As with any work, and in the particular area of Christianity, it seems that faith is foundation for that work, whether it be in scholarship or some other discipline. Second to that is one of motive. I do question the motives in cases such as these because they there are always biases and presuppositions.

As an example, I just want to point out one verse, which I do see was indicated in "black" text (meaning Jesus did not say it) being John 18:37, where Jesus tells Pilate why He was born and came into the world: "to testify to the truth". What is on trial here is not just a man, but a truth claim. So what is the truth? This work asserts that the Gospels are NOT the truth considering almost all of the words of Jesus have been reduced to everything but "red" text.

This is not surprising if you reject the whole reason why Jesus said He came to earth in the first place. Even the title of the book implies a certain bias in that if you're asking "what did Jesus really say" shows that what is contained between the covers is questioning a very basic thing. If the belief was that He did indeed say everything, there was no need to publish the book, or publish a couple of pages saying "it's all true". The fact that is so large work demonstrates what the inevitable result was going to be even without reading it.

know what you are reading...  Aug 31, 2007
As is always the case when reading or studying any extreme point of view, you must read/study the other side of the argument. It is the logical way to understand your own viewpoint without being brainwashed by what you read. A critique of this book is given by Luke Timothy Johnson in his book The Real Jesus : The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels. I suggest reading them together if you read this book at all.
A Remarkable Book  Feb 13, 2007
Perhaps it does not occur to the casual reader of the Bible that we have gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John but nothing from Jesus himself. What kind of person would we find if we discovered an original work produced by this most influential man of all time? We may never know, but thanks to the efforts of groups of scholars like the Jesus Seminar and the International Q Project we are beginning to acquire an exciting new picture of a Jesus free from the matrix of theological dross, a Jesus that lived and taught in history.

From my study of this work, it appears that the historical Jesus had no preoccupation with the "sinfulness of man" but held a rather elevated view of humanity's potential. His compassion for others seems to flow from an insight not only into his own spiritual integrity, but the spiritual integrity of every individual. He was a healer, not because he was a divinely appointed worker of miracles, but because he understood how to open people's minds to their inner spiritual power, to get them consciously reconnected to their own divine nature and bring about their innate wholeness.

Some critics have charged that The Five Gospels diminish the relevance of Jesus. For me, this book makes Jesus a much more plausible and inspirational example of what lies in store for us all on the spiritual journey. This is a remarkable book and I commend those who dedicate their talents to stripping away the thick cloud of myth and superstition surrounding Jesus and reveal the real light of historical truth.

J Douglas Bottorff, author of The Whisper of Pialigos.

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